Researchers in the Pasricha laboratory at Stanford have shown that antagonists to transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) could be used to treat pain because TGF-β plays a direct role in sensitizing nociceptors (pain-sensing neurons). TGF-β is known to be upregulated in most cases of chronic inflammation and to contribute to local tissue fibrosis. Therefore, targeting this pathway could be particularly useful for conditions such as pancreatitis and arthritis pain where inflammation and fibrosis is prominent.Stage of Research
The inventors have shown that an antibody antagonist of TGF-β can reduce pain behaviors in a rat model of pancreatitis. In addition, they have shown that TGF-β induces excitability of sensory neurons via specific ion channels that can be blocked by a small molecule inhibitor of TGF-β signaling.