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Upping the Ante in the Treatment of Chronic Pain

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More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, ranging from acute to more widespread pain, as well as the related emotional and financial burdens. These sorts of pain signals almost continuously fire in the nervous system for weeks, months and years, affecting one's ability to carry out everyday responsibilities and functions - even sleeping. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the treatment of pain annually costs the United States $560 billion to $635 billion (in 2010 dollars). So how has modern healthcare attempted to better equip itself to handle this condition? Researchers from both the Yale School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System have successfully developed a treatment approach that is more personalized to the patient's unique case of the "inherited erythromelalgia" syndrome. Genetic mutations cause the body's system for sensing pain to go into overdrive, with flare-ups occurring in response to simple changes such as warm temperatures and mild exercise. The research team used molecular modeling and multi-electrode array technology to hone in on the most productive drug treatment plan for their patients. Locating the exact location of the mutation in the patient's genome illuminates what path they should take for the treatment plan. “While these results apply in the strictest sense only to the small number of patients carrying the S241T inherited erythromelalgia mutation, they demonstrate very clearly that it is possible to use genomics and molecular modeling to guide pain treatment,” added Stephen Waxman, the Bridget Marie Flaherty Professor of Neurology and professor of neurobiology and of pharmacology at Yale. Read the original story here:
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