More effective treatment of nerve pain

It is known after wisdom teeth removal that it is possible to develop lasting nerve pain. In some cases this nerve pain could be that of trigeminal neuralgia which is characterized by sharp, lancinating pain in the teeth or facial area. The standard treatment for this chronic nerve pain can cause burdening side effects. A new study has demonstrated a novel substance that can help inhibit this type of nerve pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia can cause sharp pain that shoots to the face or teeth and torments those suffering. The bouts are triggered by touch, such as shaving, putting on make-up, showering, talking and tooth brushing, or even a gust of wind. The cause is usually from an irritation of the trigeminal nerve, the cranial nerve responsible for the sensory innervation of the facial area, parts of the scalp, and the oral cavity.

Pain signals are known to reach the brain via the activation of sodium channels located in the membranes of nerve cells. The sodium channel “1.7” is frequently expressed on pain-conducting nerves and higher pain intensity is linked to higher channel activity. Blocking this sodium channel inhibits pain. In trigeminal neuralgia, the nerve damage is presumed to be at the base of the skull. This region is hard to reach by local injections to block the pain and as such drug treatment is often used.

Researches tested a novel substance BIIB074 that inhibits the sodium channel 1.7 state-dependent, which means the more active the sodium channel gets, the stronger it is blocked by BIIB074. This substance differs from other medications that block the sodium channel 1.7 irrespective of the nerve activity. These types of substances can cause tiredness and concentration problems. The researchers found that BIIB074 was effective and very well tolerated. The researchers are now conducting additional studies to test more patients to hopefully find similar effects on pain relief.

Joanna Zakrzewska, Joanne Palmer, Valerie Morisset, Gerard Giblin, Mark Obermann, Dominik Ettlin, Giorgio Cruccu, Lars Bendtsen, Mark Estacion, Dominique Derjean, Stephen Waxman, Gary Layton, Kevin Gunn, and Simon Tate. Safety and efficacy of a Nav1.7 selective sodium channel blocker in trigeminal neuralgia: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised withdrawal phase 2a trial. The Lancet Neurology, February 2017

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