Melbourne, Jan 24 (PTI) Scientists have developed the first treatment for pain using human stem cells, which provides lasting relief in mice in a single treatment, without side effects.
If the treatment is successful in humans, it could be a major breakthrough in the development of new non-opioid, and non-addictive pain management, the researchers said.
'Nerve injury can lead to devastating neuropathic pain and for the majority of patients there are no effective therapies,' said Greg Neely, an associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia.
'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 said in a statement.
The study, published in the journal Pain, used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from bone marrow to make pain-killing cells in the lab.
The iPSCs are cells which can develop into many different cell types in the body during early life, and growth.
The researchers then put the cells into the spinal cord of mice with serious neuropathic pain, caused by damage or disease affecting the nervous system.
'Remarkably, the stem-cell neurons promoted lasting pain relief without side effects,' said study co-author Leslie Caron.
'It means transplant therapy could be an effective and long-lasting treatment for neuropathic pain. It is very exciting,' Caron said.
Because the researchers can pick where to put the pain-killing neurons, they can target only the parts of the body that are in pain.
'This means our approach can have fewer side effects,' said John Manion, a PhD student and lead author of research paper.
The stem cells used were derived from adult blood samples, the researchers noted.
Their next step will be to perform extensive safety tests in rodents and pigs.
They will then move to human patients suffering chronic pain within the next five years. PTI SAR SAR