Science 2 min read

Researchers Use Human Stem Cells to Relieve Pain in Mice

Kateryna Kon /

Kateryna Kon /

Researchers at the University of Sydney have used human stem cells to relieve extreme pain in mice. Now, they’re moving towards human trials.

Nerve injuries can result from putting too much pressure on nerves by stretching or cutting. For example, Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs from too much pressure on the median nerve in the hands.

As you can imagine, injuries to the nerve can lead to devastating neuropathic pain. According to a leader in pain research at the Charles Perkins Centre, Greg Neely, there are no effective therapies to relieve the pain in most patients.

So, Neely and colleagues at the University of Sydney developed an effective therapy. The researchers were able to make pain-killing neurons using human stem cells.

In a statement about the project, Greg Neely, who is also an associate professor at the university, said:

“This breakthrough means for some of these patients, we could make pain-killing transplants from their own cells, and the cells can then reverse the underlying cause of pain.”

Neely and colleagues published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Pain.

Using Human Stem Cells to Treat Pain in Mice

The researchers collected stem cells from adult blood samples. Then, they used the human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from bone marrow to make pain-killing cells in the lab.

To test the efficacy of the treatment, the team injected the pain-killing neurons into the spinal cord of mice with severe neuropathic pain. Along with providing lasting relief, the treatment had no side effects.

“It means transplant therapy could be an effective and long-lasting treatment for neuropathic pain. It is very exciting,” said co-senior author Dr. Leslie Caron.

Since the researchers could pick where to inject the pain-killing neurons, it becomes possible to target the parts of the body that are in pain. And this leads to fewer side effects.

After a successful treatment in mice, the University of Sydney team is moving to a more extensive study in rodents and pigs. Within the next five years, they’ll conduct trials on humans that are suffering from chronic pain.

A successful test in humans would be a huge breakthrough. It could signal the development of new non-opioid, non-addictive pain management strategies for patients, the researchers said.

Read More: Researchers Discover New Pain-Processing Sensory Organ in the Skin

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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