Comparison of sensory neurons in humans and mice could help fight chronic pain

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists have already compared the work of human and mouse nerve cells. But it is only now that researchers are able to identify possible treatments for chronic pain by analyzing sensory neurons. The results of this work are expected to help reduce animal experimentation in the future.

To treat chronic pain, DRG neurons need to be studied. But due to their inaccessibility, little research has been done.

Sensory neurons DRG (dorsal root ganglia) in the spinal cord influence the generation of pain in the body. Comparing their work in human and mouse nerve cells will help determine how chronic pain can be overcome.

Special DRG neurons are extremely difficult to access due to their location at the base of the spinal cord, and therefore are poorly understood. Previous studies have shown that information about DRG neurons in mice cannot be fully applied to humans.

So, the new work of BBS neuroscience professor Ted Price showed that it is necessary to continue to characterize the work of the DRG by comparison, but it is worth shifting the focus specifically to the study of human neurons.

Comparison of sensory neurons in humans and mice could help fight chronic pain 2Some neurons are harder to study than others

How to treat chronic pain

By describing the types of DRGs in humans and detailing their gene expression, the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences team has gained a much better understanding of the physiological functions of each individual gene that interacts with sensory neurons, Professor Price said.

This method helps to find targets inside nerve cells that can be attacked by pharmaceuticals for the treatment of chronic pain. “Our data can be used by any scientist. Theoretically, in some cases, we will not need to use mice at all: we will rely only on information about a person, ”says Ted Price, doctor of neuroscience.

Eliminating animal model dependency, Price says , would be a fundamental change. This will allow for the first time to study how any cell type interacts with any neuron in the human peripheral nervous system.

“Our main goal was to fully characterize DRG neurons by transcript to find therapeutic targets in humans. We were able to understand why much of the work in mice does not provide the required solution to the problem, ”says study co-author Dr. Diana Tavares-Ferreira.

She notes that transcriptomics determines the exact size of DRG neurons and, with a certain degree of confidence, shows the pattern of gene expression in human receptors.

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