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In a new study, two scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru have found a new painkiller for cancer patients or people who are amputated or undergone surgery who feel persistent and severe pain for weeks or months.
The study conducted by Saurabh Yadav and Avadhesha Surolia from IISc's Molecular Biophysics Unit examined how an enzyme that usually digests bacteria can promote chronic pain related to nerve injury. The study involved mice, rats and human postmortem tissues  .
The result of the study will help explain how injuries and inflammation in neurons can elevate pain sensitivity. It also suggests that the inhibitors of the enzyme could be a possible therapy for chronic or neuropathic pain.
Pain is divided into two groups - inflammatory and neuropathic or chronic pain, which is stimulated by damage to the central nervous system. The former one can be controlled with normal painkillers, but excepting opioids, there is no other option for doctors to tackle the second type of pain.
Neuropathic pain is caused by a damage or disease affecting the somatosensory nervous system. The current treatment options are ineffective against such pain.
According to Avadhesha Surolia, they identified lysozyme - a bacteria eating enzyme and an important part of the immune system as the main contributor to the development of neuropathic pain.
Both the scientists found two ways to disrupt lysozyme's functions in the body, leading to two potential drug targets. They will further find out which one of these two ways is better and if there are any side effects.
Apart from improving a person's health, a new painkiller would have a huge contribution to enhance economic productivity.
-  Yadav, S., & Surolia, A. (2019). Lysozyme elicits pain during nerve injury by neuronal Toll-like receptor 4 activation and has therapeutic potential in neuropathic pain.Science Translational Medicine,11(504), eaav4176.