Molecular neurosurgery may someday offer pain relief to patients with spinal cord injuries. A study, reported recently in the on-line edition of Neuroscience Letters, found that a potent neurotoxin eliminated pain-transmitting rogue nerve cells that caused chronic pain in rats with paralyzing spinal cord injuries. In molecular neurosurgery, the neurotoxin acts on specific sites in the spinal cord, where the neurotoxin is incorporated into nerve cells, which then die.
The findings may help researchers better grasp the mechanisms of pain experienced by individuals after a spinal cord injury. Statistics have shown that up to 80% of individuals with spinal cord injuries develop some form of chronic pain at or below the level of paralysis.