Sunburn study leads to new painkillers

sunny and pain free at the beach

Thanks to sunburn, researchers have found a molecule that controls pain. The molecule controls sensitivity to pain from UVB irradiation and unlocking its secrets could help develop new painkillers for all kinds of things, not just sun burns.

The molecule, CXCL5, is part of a group of proteins called chemokines which put out the call for the inflammatory immune cells to interact with injured tissue. This event causes pain and tenderness in the area.

“We’ve identified this chemokine as an important factor that drives some forms of pain, and we did that in the contest of UVB irradiation or sunburn,” said Stephen McMahon from the Wolfson Center for age-related diseases at King’s College London and head of a group called the London Pain Consortium. Their study is published in Science Translational Medicine. “But this study isn’t just about sunburn. More broadly we have identified a mediator that may be important in a variety of different pains states - particularly those associated with inflammation - and there are lots of those out there, for example in arthritis.”

Once the research team identified the CXCL5, they were able to make a neutralizing antibody for test rats. The next step is to develop one for humans and several drug companies are already looking into it.

Source: Science Translational Medicine, Reuters


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