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19 April 2020

OCT researchers publish new study examining genes involved in treating neuropathic pain

Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (‘OCT’), a UK-based biotechnology firm researching and developing the potential of drug compounds targeting the endocannabinoid system for treating a range of acute and chronic conditions, is delighted to announce that research partners at the University of Oxford have recently published an important new study examining genes involved in neuropathic pain.

The paper, entitled Common transcriptional signatures of neuropathic pain and authored by Dr Zameel Cader and his research group at Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, focuses on whether consistent gene changes are identifiable when damage to the somatosensory nervous system has occurred, leading to neuropathic pain (commonly resembling “pins and needles”, numbness, coldness, burning or itching sensations).

The research found that, after examining multiple rodent RNAseq following nerve injury, in contrast to previous studies, a common gene signature centred around suppression of endogenous opioid signalling could be identified, and that reversing this suppression may be a valuable strategy for treating chronic pain disorders.

Moreover, the study found that drugs currently used for managing neuropathic pain (such as opioids, amitriptyline and duloxetine) do not seem appropriate for modulating these pain genes. On the contrary, findings suggest these drugs may actually suppress endogenous opioid signalling further.

Clinical trials have shown that a thorough understanding of the interplay of various cannabinoids (eg THC vs CBD) and their specificity in relation to different pain conditions is essential in order to develop targeted pain medications that can be of help to patients. OCT is currently working to develeop understanding of the interplay of various cannabinoids, and will be partnering with Zam and colleagues to analyse these cannabinoids’ ability to reverse suppression of endogenous signalling, enabling the effective treatment of a range of chronic pain conditions, including neuropathic pain.

The research paper has been published in full in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, and can be accessed here if you would like to learn more.

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