Blocking stress protein relieves chronic pain

London: Do you experience frequent mood swings? Scientists have found a group of drugs that could help treat mood disorders and also relieve chronic pain.

The study revealed how a protein that shapes the body’s response to stress also drives chronic pain and also offers new targets for future pain treatment.

“Inhibiting FKBP51 has a very powerful effect in mice with chronic pain,” said lead author Maria Maiaru from University College London.

“Not only does it block the pain from their injury without affecting their normal pain response, it also makes them more mobile. We did not find any negative side-effects,” Maiaru stated.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

The researchers studied genetically modified mice that lacked a protein called FKBP51– important for regulating stress.

Variation in the human FKBP5 gene is linked to the risk of developing stress-related psychiatric disorders.

The researchers discovered that mice without FKBP51, experience reduced chronic pain from nerve damage and arthritic joints.

For the study, researchers then tested an FKBP51-blocking compound called SAFit2, to treat mood disorders by acting in the brain to reduce anxiety.

By selectively blocking FKBP51 in the spinal cord, they were able to test its effects on chronic pain independently of its known effects on the brain.

SAFit2 substantially alleviated chronic pain in mice, making it a promising candidate for drug development, the study found.

“The compound was designed to have positive effects on mental health, but we have discovered that it also has significant benefits for physical pain syndromes,” said senior author of the study Sandrine GĂ©ranton.