Chronic pain or neuropathic pain is a common affection of people who have suffered nerve injuries. The treatments that are usually prescribed to these patients are not always effective; therefore, doctors performed tests to see whether cell transplantation could relieve chronic pain, says Science Daily.
Recent statistics have shown that many more people suffer from chronic neuropathic pain. This affection is usually determined by chicken pox, but it starts to make its presence felt years later. Despite the medication that is prescribed for the treatment of this disease, few people get rid of chronic pain. Most of the times, the disease tends to degenerate in debilitating medical conditions.
Thanks to a recent study performed by scientists at UCSF, patients could get rid of chronic pain through cell transplantation. Tests have only been performed on mice, but doctors were very pleased with the results they obtained. The procedure presupposes that doctors transplant immature embryonic nerve cells in order to make up for the loss of other neurons in the spinal cord that could lead to pain. Several cells survived during the transplantation and they eventually matured into fully functional neurons. Later on, the new cells formed synapses and signaling pathways with other neurons meaning that they were integrated into the nerve circuit.
Further tests revealed that the cell transplantation has worked. The pain that is normally associated with nerve injury has been partially eliminated. In addition, the medical procedure did not present other side effects, such as, movement disturbances which are very frequent in patients who take medicines.
Allan Basbaum, the author of the test, told Science Daily that the group of researchers is trying to find a treatment that could eliminate the source of the neuropathic pain. He explained that the drug treatment that has been used so far was not very effective because it can only treat the pain instead of eliminating it. In his opinion, the new procedure is very safe because the embryonic nerves are taken from the brain and transplanted within the brain, which is their “home”.