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Ion channels for the treatment of pain

chronic painDoloregene therapyIon channelsNeuronNeuropathic painPain


Chronic Pain and Neuropathic Pain are disabling medical conditions characterized by persisting pain that is often of unknown origin and hard to treat: more than half of patients are indeed left without an efficient treatment. The invention concerns a novel strategy to switch-off the pain signal topically with a simple heat stimulus, using an engineered ion channel.

Technical features

Conventional drug-based treatments that target the central nervous system are non-specific, cause lots of side effects and induce addiction. An innovative solution consists of an engineered potassium channel that is tightly regulated by temperature increase and is not-responding to any other stimulus that can be found in the body. The channel can be expressed in neurons and opened by increasing local temperature at levels compatible with human use (i.e. application of heating patches, infrared radiation, ultrasounds) therefore inhibiting the neuronal activity. The innovative tool, currently at pre-clinical stage, allows to reversibly switch-off the pain signalling in a specific and topic way. This tool could be then used for the development of a gene therapy-based treatment for chronic pain or neuropathic pain.

Possible Applications

  • Gene-therapy for pain treatment;
  • Chronic pain;
  • Neuropathic pain;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Tool in neuroscience research, both in vitro and in vivo.


  • Tight regulation of the neuronal activity;
  • The channel is unresponsive to any other stimulus therefore aberrant activation is minimal;
  • Does not affect the activity of other cell types;
  • Does not induce habit, conversely to opioids;
  • Topic use of the heat stimulus.