Gene Plays Role in Chronic Pain

August 6, 2010

The future of treating chronic pain may involve testing for a newly uncovered gene that was found to play a role in humans by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The future of treating chronic pain may involve testing for a newly uncovered gene that was found to play a role in humans by researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The gene, Cacgn2, is associated with susceptibility to chronic pain caused by nerve injury in humans, according to findings in a report that will be published in Genome Research.

The report author Professor Ariel Darvasi, of the Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and team identified a region of mouse chromosome 15 that contains a genetic variant contributing to pain, according to a press release.

Darvasi and colleagues attempted two fine-mapping approaches to narrow down the chromosomes in the region to an interval of 155 genes and were able to identify the gene Cacgn2.

The team then studied a mouse strain that contained a mutant version of the gene to assess behavioral and electrophysiological characteristics of chronic pain and found it played a functional role in pain. The team tested it out in human models by analyzing a cohort of breast cancer patients that experienced chronic pain half a year or more after undergoing removal or partial removal of a breast. Genetic variants of CACNG2 were found to be significantly associated with the pain in these patients.

“The immediate significance is the mere awareness that differences in pain perception may have a genetic predisposition,” Darvasi said, in a press release. “Our discovery may provide insights for treating chronic pain through previously unthought-of mechanisms.”