Decoding the Message in Pain Signals
Low-back pain, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and other chronic pain conditions affect more than 25 per cent of Canadians. Chronic pain is often disabling and can lead to depression. Current therapies are quite ineffective, improved treatments are urgently needed to tackle this serious clinical problem.
Dr. Christophe Altier, Canada Research Chair in Inflammatory Pain, is examining how pain-sensing nerves become hyperresponsive in chronic diseases. Inflammation in the stomach or the knee joint causes pain through enhanced activity of pain-sensing nerves, a process called "sensitization". Abnormal function of a specific type of protein in these nerves contributes to this pathological condition.
Altier is using a variety of techniques to examine how and why inflammatory pain alters the activity of these proteins. His ultimate goal is to identify new ways to normalize the function of these proteins, and to block persistent pain.
Altier’s research will identify molecular targets, which could eventually lead to the development of effective new pain management treatments.