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9th Annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium on Advances in Pain Research

ICA recently attended the 9th Annual NIH Pain Consortium Symposium on Advances in Pain Research. The emphasis this year was on biological and psychological factors that contribute to chronic pain. This annual symposium helps the Pain Consortium develop a comprehensive and forward-thinking pain research agenda for the NIH, identify key opportunities in pain research, and foster multi-disciplinary and trans-NIH initiatives. There were some exciting findings presented by the researchers at the symposium. Among them were the results of Dr. Lisa Kilpatrick’s study, Resting State Alterations in Women with Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome, who found that women with IC may have both a sensory and motor pathology which alters the connectivity within their brain network previously associated with urinary bladder function. ICA is very excited by the findings of Dr. Linda Watkins. In her study, Targeting Glial Activation for Treating Chronic Pain and Improving the Clinical Efficacy of Opioids, it was found that glial cells, part of the nervous system, can create and maintain enhanced pain, and that glial cell activation is linked to opioid tolerance, dependence/withdrawl, and opioid reward. Therefore, targeting glial cells may suppress opioid-induced respiratory depression and constipation as well as provide a novel approach to pain control and increase the effectiveness of opioid analgesics. What’s more, these findings could apply to more than just opioids as the effects of alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine are all also amplified by glial cells. If you’d like to see the application of this research in action, watch the news report about Dr. Watkins’s study.