Gene therapy could be used to treat people suffering from chronic pain, after scientists successfully switched off part of the system that transmits signals to the brain.
The experiments showed it was possible to interfere with a gene that controls feelings of physical pain, significantly reducing the discomfort in mice who had been given chemotherapy.
If the results can be translated into humans and the treatment shown to be safe, it could provide an alternative to opioids for the millions of people who suffer regular pain or receive treatments that cause pain for an extended period of time.
The system works by silencing a gene known as SCN9A. In 2006 researchers found that people with a mutation in this gene did not feel discomfort because…