Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Examining Inflammatory Processes in the Dorsal Root Ganglion (DRG) as a Driver of Neuropathic Pain in MS

Year Awarded: 2021

Term: 3 years

Funding Amount: $295,461

Affiliation(s): University of Alberta

Province(s): Alberta

Researcher(s): Dr. Bradley Kerr

Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care

Background: It is estimated that half of all individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience chronic pain. Chronic ‘neuropathic’ pain is particularly distressing, because conventional analgesic therapies are largely ineffective or are associated with dose-limiting side effects. The development of new treatments for neuropathic pain in MS has unfortunately been hampered by a lack of studies examining its underlying causes.

Overview: The primary focus of this research is to understand the causes of chronic pain that develops in MS. Researchers recently showed that dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons residing in the peripheral nervous system are subjected to significant amounts of inflammation and become hyper-excitable in the MS animal model. The researchers hypothesize that this is a key driver leading to pain in MS. This work will examine a novel pathway involving the micro-RNA (miR-21) and factors (TLR-7 and TLR-8) to gain insights into the mechanisms and causes of neuropathic pain in MS.

Impact: Most studies to-date have focused on the central nervous system (CNS) comprised of the brain and spinal cord and designing drugs to get into the CNS can be very challenging and come with many side effects. The peripheral nervous system however is much easier to target for therapeutics. This study hopes to generate insights that will lead toward the development of more effective treatments for pain in MS.

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