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Researchers from Canada and South Korea have uncovered an enzyme in our brain that makes pain persist after a nerve injury. With this breakthrough, they hope to manage and alleviate pain by blocking this brain enzyme. Additionally, they anticipate that they can use this discovery to help treat chronic pain.

Led by Min Zhuo, the researchers have experimented on mice to locate this brain enzyme. Referring to the brain enzyme, the study's lead author has this to say: It provides us with basic understanding of the brain mechanism for chronic pain. Zhuo is a physiology professor at the University of Toronto.

While painkillers have been the staple for most hospitals and other medical facilities in dealing with chronic pain, they have been found to be inadequate. This is especially true for extreme cases like cancer.

It not only provides a new possibility to design new pain medicine, but it also helps us to understand why many drugs fail to control chronic pain, Prof. Zhuo added.

The researchers came across the brain enzyme protein kinase M zeta in the anterior cingulated cortex of the mouse's brain. When injured, these enzyme levels were raised.

To verify the enzyme's function, Zhuo and colleagues eliminated a gene in another mouse from the other test group to see if it was triggering the production of the protein kinase M zeta enzyme. True enough, those mice suffered less chronic pain after nerve injury.

The knockout mice without this enzyme may experience less or no chronic pain, Prof. Zhuo said.


The Right Treatment

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Arif B. Khan, MD, is the medical director of Texas Interventional Pain Care, an interventional pain center specializing in the treatment of many painful conditions, and located at 2201 N. Central Express Way, Suite 171, Richardson, TX 75080; 4800 North Galloway Ave. Suite 300 Mesquite, Texas 75150. Phone: 972-952-0290 or fax 972-952-0293.