No dream: these mice feel little pain.
Missing protein leaves mice impervious to pain
Researchers have a new lead for treating pain. A protein called DREAM appears to play a key role in how mice respond to heat, touch and inflammation1.
Mice lacking DREAM seem oblivious to all types of pain, find Josef Penninger and his colleagues at The AMGEN Institute, Toronto, Canada. The animals can bear acute pain - the kind caused for example by heat, pressure, or injections as well as chronic inflammatory pain - that which arthritis patients suffer. They seem otherwise normal.
While the results suggest altering DREAM function might be a way to change pain perception, practical applications are a long way off. "This is a major mechanistic insight," says John Wood who studies pain receptors at University College in London - but whether or not DREAM acts in a similar way in humans remains to be seen, he cautions.
Current estimates suggest that one in five people worldwide live with chronic pain from cancer and other debilitating diseases. Treatments with fewer side effects than existing analgesics have long been a goal for researchers.
VIRGINIA GEWIN | © Nature News Service
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