Pain is the most common reason for people to visit their doctor; it is a major symptom in many medical conditions and can significantly interfere with quality of life and general functioning. Persistent or chronic pain affects around 20% of adults, which equates to more than eight million people in the UK alone. Medication currently available to treat the condition is effective in only around 40% of sufferers and even these patients often struggle to maintain the balance between adequate pain relief and the adverse effects of current therapies.

Research led by Prof Martin Leuwer addresses the long-standing need for more effective therapies to treat chronic pain. The work has a specific focus on the glycine receptor, which is one of the principal receptors in the CNS involved in the sensation of chronic pain, and spans a spectrum of research from basic laboratory investigations of pain mechanisms through to clinical trials of novel compounds. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a specific type of chronic pain that develops after an injury or trauma to a limb and which continues after the injury has healed. Research undertaken by Dr Andreas Goebel has shown that infusion of intravenous immunoglobulin is effective in around 50% of CPRS patients, with few adverse effects.

Further work is ongoing to explore the role of the immune system in chronic pain and the potential of immunomodulatory drugs for unexplained chronic pain conditions.

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