Chief of Pain Research Awarded NIH Grant

Ru-Rong Ji, PhDThe National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Dr. Ru-Rong Ji and his co-principal investigator, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a one-year, $100,000 National Institutes of Health grant for their project titled, “Hemichannels, Astrocytic Release, and Neuropathic Pain.”

Pain conditions are a major health problem in the United States which can lead to medical morbidity and a reduced quality of life for millions of Americans. Chronic neuropathic pain conditions are especially difficult to treat. A largely unaddressed challenge is how the transition from acute pain to chronic neuropathic pain occurs and how to prevent and reverse this transition in patients. This project will employ a multidisciplinary approach including the use of inducible transgenic mice with genetically modified astrocytes, in vivo imaging of ATP release (bioluminescence) and microglia motility and Ca2+ changes (2-photon) in the spinal cord, behavioral testing of evoked and ongoing neuropathic pain after nerve injury, and ex vivo and in vivo electrophysiology in the spinal cord. The proposed studies will provide a step-by-step analysis of neuron-glia interactions initiated by nerve injury and may comprise an efficient means to prevent and treat chronic pain.

Dr. Ji is a distinguished professor of anesthesiology at the Duke University School of Medicine, the chief of pain research at Duke Anesthesiology, a faculty member of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine and the director of the department’s Pain Signaling and Plasticity Laboratory. Dr. Gang Chen, the co-investigator of this project, is also a  member of Dr. Ji’s lab. This award is a supplement to Dr. Ji’s larger NIH R01 of the same name.

Chris KeithChief of Pain Research Awarded NIH Grant
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CTPM Faculty Published in Pain Journals

Nerve Injury and Pain Mechanism Laboratory MembersDrs. Thomas Buchheit and Thomas Van de Ven with Duke Anesthesiology’s newly established Center for Translational Pain Medicine, along with their colleagues at the department’s Nerve Injury Pain Laboratory, publish manuscripts that could have a significant impact on patients suffering from chronic pain, post-amputation.

The article featured in the journal Pain on September 23, 2016, titled “Differential Expression of Systemic Inflammatory Mediators in Amputees With Chronic Residual Limb Pain,” has implications for biologic targets and future non-opioid therapies. Dr. Van de Ven and Alex Chamessian (of the Duke University School of Medicine) are co-first authors of this paper.

Chronic post-surgical pain impacts the majority of amputees, with more than half experiencing neuralgic residual limb pain. As part of the Veterans Integrated Pain Evaluation Research (VIPER) study, investigators examined links between systemic inflammatory mediator levels and chronic residual limb pain. Study results suggest that chronic post-amputation residual limb pain is associated with excessive inflammatory response to injury or to inadequate resolution of the post-injury inflammatory state. The impact of pain catastrophizing on residual limb pain may be due in part to common underlying inflammatory mechanisms. Dr. Buchheit, chief of Duke Anesthesiology’s Pain Medicine Division and Dr. Hung-Lun (John) Hsia, co-authored this paper.

The article featured in the journal Pain Medicine on July 8, 2016, titled “Perioperative Pain Management Strategies for Amputation: A Topical Review,” highlights why patient-tailored analgesic regimens utilizing catheter-based techniques are essential in the acute post-amputation phase. Co-authors of this paper include Drs. Buchheit, Van de Ven and Hsia.

Chris KeithCTPM Faculty Published in Pain Journals
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Pain Researcher Awarded NIH Grant

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded Andrea Nackley, PhD, a $500,000, one-year grant for her project titled, “Proteins, MicroRNAs and Genes Associated with TMD and Overlapping Conditions.”

According to the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain affects 100 million Americans, causing extensive economic, social and personal costs. For some, the pain remains localized, while for others the pain spreads to affect multiple anatomic sites, suggesting a common underlying cause. In response to PA-14-244, Dr. Nackley plans to use stored biospecimens and existing data from a clinical study of 1,460 adults to determine biological (proteins, microRNAs, and gene polymorphisms), psychosocial (stress, depression, anxiety), and clinical (general health and environmental exposures) factors that contribute to localized and overlapping pain conditions. They will also use bioinformatics methods to understand how these factors interact to influence pain with the long-term goal to identify biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of chronic overlapping pain conditions.

Dr. Nackley is the director of The Nackley Lab, part of Duke Anesthesiology’s Center for Translational Pain Medicine. This center began in January of 2016 and represents a novel entity established to transform the way painful conditions are diagnosed and treated. This new center  further expands Duke Anesthesiology’s existing clinical and research program in innovative pain therapies by bringing together, under one umbrella, leading basic scientists, clinicians and clinical researchers who have a common core mission of unraveling the causes of painful conditions to better improve patient care.

Chris KeithPain Researcher Awarded NIH Grant
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DREAM Campaign Support Results in NIH Grant

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Dr. Sven-Eric Jordt’s Duke Anesthesiology laboratory a two-year, $384,780 grant from its National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases for their project titled, “Mechanisms of Itch in Poison Ivy-Induced Allergic Contact Dermatitis.”

This R21 grant will support highly innovative research to identify mechanisms of itch. “Conditions such as allergic contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are widespread, with patients suffering from strong untreatable itch,” says Dr. Jordt, who adds that the sensation of itch is related to the sensation of pain which is triggered by related nerve pathways. “However, itch research has clearly lagged behind pain research and there is a great need for new treatments.”

This success was made possible with support from a DREAM Innovation Grant (DIG) to Dr. Boyi Liu in Dr. Jordt’s Chemical Sensing, Pain and Inflammation Research Laboratory. This lab focuses on the mechanisms that enable humans and animals to sense touch, pain and irritation.

The DIG is part of Duke Anesthesiology’s DREAM (Developing Research Excellence in Anesthesia Management) Campaign, endowed by philanthropic gifts to the department, which supports innovative high-risk and potentially high-reward investigations to accelerate anesthesia and pain management to improve patient care. Dr. Liu recently joined the faculty of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University in Hangzhou, China, and will continue collaborating with Dr. Jordt’s group.

Chris KeithDREAM Campaign Support Results in NIH Grant
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