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Opioid-Free Treatment For Chronic Pain.

Posted on 29th March 2022

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This report on "The Brighter Side Of News" describes the development by scientists at the University of California San Diego of a treatment for chronic pain which is not based on opioids.

The treatment uses CRISPR/Cas9 methods which are normally used for gene therapy, but in this case, no changes are made to the patients' genes; instead, the treatment temporarily inactivates a protein in pain-transmitting neurons, reducing sensitivity to pain. The effects last up to 44 weeks. The treatment is administered as an injection (e.g. to the spine), rather than as a tablet.

Obviously, the new treatment needs to be tested on humans (so far it has only been tested on mice), and then go through proper formal clinical trials, so it will be a while before we can get it from our doctors, but the impact could be huge. Very many people suffer from chronic pain, e.g. in the lower back, neck and shoulders, affecting their ability to work and their enjoyment of life. At the moment, such pain is treated with over-the-counter pain killers like ibuprofen and paracetamol (neither of which are very effective against severe pain) or opioids (which are addictive, and also directly impact the ability to work and drive).