Chronic pain is an invisible and agonizing symptom. Long after physical damage heals, a throbbing, tingling, shooting pain can linger—sometimes constantly, for days, months, even years. And so far there’s no real cure.
Studies have shown that physiology and genetics can increase pain sensitivity, and one thing for certain—without the brain there is no pain.
This protein is called nerve growth factor (NGF). It’s a naturally occurring protein, but its levels rise dramatically in response to some diseases and injuries. In the short-term it activates pain-signaling nerves and this results in what we feel is pain. But it can also increase the expression of neurotransmitters and this can change how sensory nerves transmit pain messages for the long-term. It’s as if NGF amplifies the pain message to the brain.
Tanezumab apparently neutralizes NGF and puts a halt to this amped-up pain signal.
The drug is in final clinical trials, and Pfizer management says it has blockbuster potential. That might mean financial blockbuster, but hopefully it will also mean relief for the roughly 40 million pain sufferers in the U.S.