Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition affecting around 8 % of the population. It can be triggered in various ways, including through surgery, injury, diabetes, chemotherapy, and viral infection. Existing treatments are only effective in a minority of patients. Furthermore, treatments address the symptoms, not the underlying causes of the pain, and so are not curative. In fact, the underlying causes of neuropathic pain are still poorly understood, and that’s where the NGN-PET project comes in.
The NGN-PET team will focus its efforts on interactions between nerve cells (neurons) and glial cells (also known as glia). There are many types of glia, and their role in the nervous system includes supporting nerve cells, insulating them, and providing them with nutrients and oxygen. Recent research has revealed that glial cells are actively involved in the development of sensory abnormalities, including pain.
NGN-PET aims to explore neuron-glial interactions in neuropathic pain caused by chemotherapy or trauma by developing advanced neuron-glia cell cultures based on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The outcome of the project will be a high throughput screening platform that can then be used to rapidly test potential treatments and will ultimately pave the way for the development of safe, effective pain treatments.