Researchers have uncovered a way to block neuropathic pain, including pain caused by chemotherapeutic agents and bone cancer. A receptor called A3 can repress pain when turned on in the brain and spinal cord. It can be activated by its chemical stimulator, the small molecule adenosine. Daniela Salvemini from the Saint Louis University said that harnessing the potent pain-killing effects of the molecule could provide a breakthrough step towards effective treatment for chronic pain.
The most successful pharmacological approaches for the treatment of chronic pain rely on certain pathways: circuits involving opioid, adrenergic and calcium channels. For the past decade, scientists have tried to take advantage of these known pathways, where the series of interactions between molecular-level components take place that consequently lead to pain. In this research on animal models, Salvemini and colleagues demonstrated that activation of the A3 adenosine receptor subtype is key in mediating the pain relieving effects of adenosine.
The study appeared in the journal, Brain.