Researchers at the University of Leeds, UK, have found a potential new target to reduce chronic pain which could avoid addictive painkillers.
Using rat nerve cells, the team discovered a new pain amplification mechanism in the peripheral nervous system, which is connected to, but separate from, the central nervous system.
The current painkillers we use act on the central nervous system and the brain, but these opioids are highly addictive.
"Therapies based on the peripheral nervous system would potentially have less effect on the brain" said Professor Nikita Gamper, corresponding author of the study.
The work was achieved in collaboration with scientists from the University of Texas Health San Antonio, USA, and the Hebei Medical University, China.