The neuropathic pain that results from damage to neurons was again studied by scientists recently. They experimented the transplantation of neurons to replace the damaged ones. The experiment involved transplanting immature neurons in mice. The immature neurons grew into full-nerve cells but not all of the those survived. However, it was proved that they can actually grow and function as complete cells.
"Now we are working toward the possibility of potential treatments that might eliminate the source of neuropathic pain, and that may be much more effective than drugs that aim only to treat symptomatically the pain that results from chronic, painful conditions," the senior author of the study, Allan Basbaum PhD, who is also the chair of the Department of Anatomy at UCSF, states in the study report, as reported on sciencedaily.com.
Neuropathic pain is very difficult to treat, as even strong painkillers do not act on it. The study aimed at finding a way to treat the pain and the related diseases by replacing the lost nerve cells. The co-author of the study, Arnold Kriegstein, commented on the research, saying that he feels it is a starting point for further study. "This research is at a very early stage, and we're a long way from thinking about it in human trials, but we do have a method of making cells that are like these inhibitory neurons, starting with human embryonic stem cells," Kriegstein said in his remarks, as reported on sciencedaily.com.
The study suggests that transplantation of nerve cells would have a direct effect on the pain, something which is not achievable by medication. The advancement in the research can potentially lead to a conclusive treatment for humans, as the results of this experiment are very encouraging. "Unlike drugs, the transplanted cells can have very focused effects, depending on where they are transplanted," Kriegstein said about the new finding.
There might be various causes of the pain and the scientists are working on determining the specific causes that are treatable by this newly proposed therapy. They are hopeful that they would be successful in finding the cure through this method. The study has opened a new window for the treatment of neuropathic pain, which is usually considered untreatable.