From Lab Discoveries to New Treatments for Pain

priceTed Price is an Associate Professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he runs a lab that does pain research. The focus of Price’s work is to understand the causes of chronic pain, at the level of molecules and cells, and he does so by studying pain plasticity. As a pain researcher, his goal is to develop new therapies, based on discoveries made in his lab, to treat chronic pain conditions in people. In RELIEF’s inaugural podcast, Price discusses the concept of pain plasticity, and how pain researchers can take advantage of it to develop new treatments for chronic pain. For a glossary of terms used in the podcast, please see below. (Note: For slower connections, the video may take longer to load. If you experience difficulty, the video is also available through YouTube here).


AMP kinase (AMPK): A protein, called an enzyme, that regulates cell signaling molecular pathways; one of these pathways is called mTOR1. AMPK is being investigated as an analgesic drug target.

Analgesic drug targets: The molecules/systems against which a drug works to relieve pain.

Anti-CGRP antibodies: A class of drugs being tested in people to treat migraine.

Central nervous system: The brain and spinal cord.

Metformin: A Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug used to treat diabetes. Metformin activates AMPK, and is being investigated for its ability to alleviate nerve injury pain that results from chemotherapy.

Nerve growth factor (NGF): A molecule that stimulates nerve growth. Antibodies that inhibit NGF are under clinical investigation to treat pain.

Neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptor antagonists: A class of drugs that failed to relieve chronic pain in clinical studies.

Neuropathic pain: Pain resulting from nerve injury.

Nociceptors: Pain-sensing nerve cells.

Peripheral nervous system: The part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord.

Plasticity: The ability of the nervous system to change its structure and function.

Synapses: The connections between neurons.

TRPV1: A protein, called an ion channel, that senses heat and capsaicin (the main pungent component of hot chili peppers).

TRPV1 antagonists: Compounds that block the functioning of TRPV1. These compounds are being tested as pain relievers.