Innovative Strategies to Ease Chronic Pain
One in five Canadians suffers from chronic pain, and the proportion is even higher among the elderly. This is concerning, since uncontrolled pain is the single most common cause of disability that impairs Canadians’ quality of life. Moreover, persistent untreated pain is associated with several brain disorders, including cognitive deficits, anxiety, depression and addiction.
Unfortunately, current pain treatments rarely achieve complete pain control, and are often associated with disabling side effects. New approaches are needed to address this public health issue.
Dr. Yves De Koninck, Canada Research Chair in Chronic Pain and Related Brain Disorders, aims to shed light on how pain alters the brain and how the nervous system processes pain signals. He and his research team are using a multidisciplinary and collaborative research strategy to develop novel tools to understand the organization of brain circuits and the dynamic mechanisms that control how they function.
To gain these new insights, they are making use of state-of-the-art light-based technologies to view and control both healthy and diseased brain circuits; developing new tools to analyse data from physiological, cellular and molecular studies (combined with advanced imaging techniques); and developing computer-based approaches to model brain functioning in order to address issues that are not easy to tackle experimentally.
This combination of novel approaches is allowing Dr. De Koninck to identify new therapeutic targets and develop much-needed new pain treatments so that he can ultimately help bring relief to those suffering from chronic pain.