Novel Mechanism of Pain Relief Discovered in Tropical Disease

the MPR take:

Patients with the tropical disease Buruli ulcer, which is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, often feel less pain in the disease wounds compared to minor scratches or low-degree burns. Published in the journal Cell, scientists sought to explore why these lesions are relatively painless; previously, it was hypothesized that the lack of pain was linked to nerve tissue destruction. The researchers discovered that the toxin mycolactone in the bacterium can prevent the transmission of nerve signals and thus no pain response. This could lead to a new class of analgesics for pain relief using the novel receptor-blocking molecule.

Tropical Disease Insights May Benefit Pain Patients
Tropical Disease Insights May Benefit Pain Patients

Inserm researchers and their collaborators have studied lesions in patients with Buruli ulcer, a tropical disease. They show that, despite the extent and severity of these wounds, they are less painful than others that seem relatively minor (e.g. scratches, low-degree burns). They discovered an analgesic mechanism that limits the transmission of pain signals to the brain that may be useful in developing new drugs for pain relief.