Doc, what exactly is a receptor

In real estate, location is key.

New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and McGill University in Montreal indicates that the location of receptors that transmit pain signals IS important in how big or small a pain signal will be and how effectively drugs can block those signals.

Blocking pain receptors in the nucleus of spinal nerve cells could control pain more effectively than interfering with the same type of receptors located on cell surfaces, the research shows. The scientists also found that when those same nerve cells encounter a painful stimulus, some of the receptors migrate from the cell surface into the nucleus.

“Chronic pain affects almost 30 percent of Americans, and we’ve found, in rats, that by blocking specific receptors inside the cell, we can block pain,” said co-senior author Karen O’Malley, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at Washington University. “If we can find ways to specifically block pain receptors inside of cells rather than on the cell surface, we may make a big dent in chronic pain with fewer drug-induced side effects.”

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