Unmet Needs in Pain Therapeutics: Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia
Posted June 29, 2010
Chronic pain conditions occur when pain sensing and processing pathways are damaged or otherwise functioning incorrectly, leading to the perception of pain without an associated tissue injury or underlying disease process. An estimated 25 million Americans suffer from chronic pain syndromes such as neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia. Current treatments for these pain conditions are usually nonspecific, since it is often difficult to identify an underlying cause, and thus frequently ineffective.
Many investigators, both basic and clinical, are studying the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain and seeking new therapies. Seven of these investigators discussed their work on April 27, 2010, at a symposium jointly organized by the New York Academy of Sciences and the New York Chapter of the American Chemical Society. Topics at the symposium ranged from basic neurobiological research, to clinical studies of specific pain syndromes, to the need for better animal models and biomarkers in chronic pain research if drug development is to become more successful.
Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.
Presentations are available from:
Michael W. Salter (Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto)
Amy MacDermott (Columbia University)
Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj (Yale University School of Medicine; Veterans Administration Connecticut Healthcare System)
Daniel J. Clauw (The University of Michigan)
Beth A. Winkelstein (University of Pennsylvania)
Mark R. Bowlby (Merck Research Laboratories)
This program is supported by an educational grant from Purdue Pharma L.P.
An Alternate View of Chronic Pain
This Howard Hughes Medical Institute story discusses the work of Michael Salter.
American Academy of Pain Medicine
The American Academy of Pain Medicine is a medical specialty society involved in education, training, advocacy, and research in pain medicine.
American Chronic Pain Association
The American Chronic Pain Association offers peer support and education in pain management skills to people with pain, family and friends, and health care professionals.
American Pain Society
The American Pain Society is a multidisciplinary community that brings together scientists, clinicians, and other professionals to increase knowledge and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.
The goals of the Erythromelalgia Association are to identify, educate, and support those suffering EM's painful symptoms; to help fund research leading to a cure for this rare disorder; to raise public awareness; and to educate healthcare practitioners to recognize and diagnose EM.
Fibromyalgia misconceptions: Interview with a Mayo Clinic expert
This interview covers some aspects of the current controversy in fibromyalgia.
International Association for the Study of Pain
The International Association for the Study of Pain is an organization that brings together scientists, clinicians, health care providers, and policy makers to stimulate and support the study of pain and to translate that knowledge into improved pain relief worldwide.
National Fibromyalgia Association
The goal of the National Fibromyalgia Association is to develop and execute programs dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.
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Mark R. Bowlby, PhD
Mark Bowlby is currently director of exploratory biomarkers in the Pain and Migraine department at Merck Research Labs in West Point, PA. Bowlby received his Bachelor's degree from SUNY Stony Brook, followed by a MS and PhD from UC Santa Barbara. His past research has focused on drug discovery for pain-related ion channel targets such as HCN, KCNQ and Nav, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and synaptic plasticity for cognition disorders. Bowlby's current work encompasses identifying and characterizing biomarkers for chronic pain targets, and translating their use from animal studies into clinical trials.
Daniel J. Clauw, MD
Daniel Clauw is professor of anesthesiology, medicine, and psychiatry and is director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Michigan Medical School, Clauw subsequently completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in rheumatology at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Clauw served in various capacities at Georgetown, including vice chair of medicine and director of the Georgetown Center for Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research before returning to the University of Michigan. At the University of Michigan until recently, Clauw served as the associate dean for clinical and transitional research and director of the Institute for Clinical and Health Research. He is a member of several professional societies, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Rheumatology, and the International Association for the Study of Pain.
Clauw has authored or coauthored more than 140 articles published in peer-reviewed journals such as Neuropsychopharmacology, Pain, and Psychosomatic Medicine. He is coeditor of Arthritis and Rheumatism and is on the editorial boards for Arthritis Care and Research, Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain, and Current Rheumatology Reviews. With research interests in fibromyalgia and central pain syndromes, stress, mechanisms of pain processing, and functional somatic syndromes, Clauw serves as principal investigator in several clinical studies. His group is best known for work showing how the central nervous system contributes to pain processing in conditions such as fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, low back pain, osteoarthritis, and Gulf War illnesses. He has presented his research findings at national and international meetings and is the recipient of a Clinical and Translational Science Award funded by the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health.
Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj, PhD
Sulayman D. Dib-Hajj is a research scientist in the Department of Neurology and the Center for Neuroscience and Regeneration Research, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and Rehabilitation Research Center, Veterans Affairs Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut. After earning an undergraduate and master's degree from the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, Dib-Hajj earned his doctorate degree in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
Dib-Hajj's research focuses on the role of voltage-gated sodium channels in inherited and acquired pain disorders. A multi-disciplinary approach has been utilized to investigate the role of sodium channels in electrogenesis within nociceptive neurons under normal and pathological conditions. These studies have yielded information about contribution of peripheral sodium channels to pathophysiology of pain. Dib-Hajj has co-authored more than 100 articles, abstracts, and book chapters. He serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Neuroscience, The Open Pain Journal, The Open Drug Discovery Journal, and Pain Research and Treatment.
Smriti Iyengar, PhD
Smriti Iyengar received her PhD from the University of Baroda, India and her post-doctoral training at the division of Neuroscience and Physiology, Rutgers University. She is currently at Eli Lilly and Company, where she joined in 1991 as a neuropharmacologist within the Neuroscience Research division. Her research interests in glutamate, neuropeptides, monoamines and ion channels have focused on pain and psychiatric disorders. Her broad expertise in Neuroscience Drug Discovery has been targeted towards discovery and clinical development of several novel therapeutic targets and drug candidates. Smriti has published and presented extensively and has been invited to participate in several prestigious academic/external cross functional committees.
Amy B. MacDermott, PhD
Amy MacDermott's research interests focus on synaptic regulation of the nociceptive pathway within the spinal cord. She mainly uses electrophysiology, immunocytochemistry and imaging to investigate excitability changes in nociceptors as well as synaptic transmission within the spinal cord dorsal horn. She studies synaptic transmission between peripheral sensory neurons and dorsal horn target neurons as well as how local inhibitory and excitatory interneurons work to regulate activity within the superficial dorsal horn. She expects these studies will provide insights into new targets for pain management. MacDermott received her training in Physiology from Dr. Rodney Parsons at the University of Vermont. She subsequently worked at the NIAAA, NIH, and Columbia University. She is currently a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics and the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University.
Michael W. Salter, MD, PhD
Michael Salter received his MD at the University of Western Ontario and his PhD from McGill University. As the Canada Research Chair in Neuroplasticity and Pain, Salter is determining the molecular and cellular mechanisms of normal and pathological neuroplasticity. He is using his discoveries to design and test new types of treatment for individual suffering from a variety of disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). He is developing molecules that target major cell signalling pathways in neurons and in glial cells involved in pain and stroke.
Beth A. Winkelstein, PhD
Beth Winkelstein is an associate professor of bioengineering and neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania (1993) and earned a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke in 1999. She joined Penn's faculty in 2002 after completing a post-doctoral fellowship with Joyce DeLeo in Anesthesiology/Pharmacology/Toxicology at Dartmouth in the neuroimmunology of low back pain.
Winkelstein's research focuses on defining mechanisms of painful neck and spine injuries, mechanical and cellular mechanisms of chronic pain, and mechanotransductive pathways of pain. She has pioneered several rat models of neck injury, which are the first painful neck injury models with clinically-relevant pain symptoms. She has also developed a non-invasive model of TMJ pain in the rat. Her group implements rigorous engineering analyses in these in vivo systems to define biomechanical loading and relate those metrics to cellular mechanisms that drive pain. Her group also is developing new imaging approaches in ligament tissue biomechanics studies to understand subfailure micro- and macro-scale tissue responses.
Winkelstein's research has been recognized by awards from the Stapp Car Crash Conference, the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, and ASME. She was awarded a Whitaker Young Investigator Award, NIH Career Award, NSF-CAREER, and the 2006 YC Fung Young Investigator Award for the most promising young Bioengineer. She has been funded by the Whitaker Foundation, NSF, NHTSA, CDC, NIH, CSRS, DoD, and industry partners. She serves on the Editorial Board for Spine and the Journal of Biomechanical Engineering and has published over 55 peer-reviewed papers and 8 book chapters. Winkelstein served as primary research mentor for 17 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as many undergraduates. She is the faculty advisor for Penn's chapters of BMES and SWE and is active in the ASME–BED, BMES and World Congress of Biomechanics.
Megan Stephan studied transporters and ion channels at Yale University for nearly two decades before giving up the pipettor for the pen. She specializes in covering research at the interface between biology, chemistry and physics. Her work has appeared in The Scientist and Yale Medicine. Stephan holds a PhD in biology from Boston University.