Research Aims to Eliminate Chronic Pain

Joel Hirsch, PhD of Tel Aviv University conducts basic research
investigating calcium channels in the human body, established targets for the
alleviation of chronic pain. His research provides new information into how
these channels work. His laboratory is developing computer-derived models of
drugs that might affect chronic pain which are targeted for calcium channels.

“We have determined structures of calcium channel components which
provide a framework for drug design and targeting,” Hirsch said in a press
release. “There is still much to learn about calcium channels, which
enable pain signals to travel from the body to the brain.”

Once he and his colleagues understand the deeper mechanisms of these
channels, they hope to use new drugs to modulate them “on” and
“off” as needed.

According to the American Chronic Pain Association, chronic pain is pain
that persists a month or more beyond the usual recovery period for an injury or
illness. It can continue for months or years, is not always constant, but
usually interferes with one’s quality of life at all levels.

“Calcium channels are still poorly understood, but we do know that
they are also important players in pathways that cause epilepsy. Our research
into neuropathy, or finding treatments for chronic pain, may yield a new class
of compounds that serve multiple purposes,” Hirsch said. “Our
challenge is to target calcium channel modulators to specific tissues or
channel types a single drug for all forms of chronic pain isn’t

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