About this Research Topic
Chronic pain may affect over 20% of the population worldwide, arising as a result of injury or disease of varying etiologies. In contrast to injuries or illnesses that are temporary and resolving, chronic pain can persist and recur for years or indefinitely and may escalate over time. The presence of chronic pain can dramatically reduce productivity and quality of life in otherwise healthy individuals, limiting their participation in daily activities including workforce and recreation. As a result, the continuous or recurrent presence of chronic pain is a significant clinical challenge, since traditional pain medications are often infeasible for long-term administration and maintenance of sufficient levels of pain reduction and can be fraught with undesired side effects at off-target sites. Thus, there is a strong imperative to develop effective long-term therapeutics for the alleviation of chronic pain and restoration of quality of life.
The expanding fields of cell transplantation and gene therapies have been explored for a wide variety of CNS treatments with a number reaching clinical trials. Cell transplantation and gene therapies are potentially transformative approaches in chronic pain management, as they can be disease-modifying and/or provide sustained and continually renewable sources of pain-modulating neuroactive substances, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for repeated systemic analgesics administration and their attendant undesirable side effects. In addition, pharmacologic substances that are labile, have short half-lives, and/or do not readily pass the blood-brain barrier can be delivered to restricted CNS sites via transplanted cells or the direct administration of pain-modulatory transgenes.
Emerging strategies showing promise for chronic pain management include intraspinal transplantation of neural stem cells for integration in dorsal horn neurocircuitry, intrathecal and systemic grafting of mesenchymal stem cells for anti-inflammatory or trophic factor provision, and delivery of a variety of therapeutic analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents via direct gene administration, viral vectors, or engineered cell transplants.
The Research Topic aims to update the most recent developments in these areas including both preclinical and clinical research. Original articles, reviews, and perspectives are welcome.
Keywords: gene therapies, cell transplant therapies, chronic pain, pain management
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