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Pain Res Treat. 2011;2011:987597. doi: 10.1155/2011/987597. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Gene therapy: a potential approach for cancer pain.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Emory University, 101 Woodruff Circle, Rm 6339, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Chronic pain is experienced by as many as 90% of cancer patients at some point during the disease. This pain can be directly cancer related or arise from a sensory neuropathy related to chemotherapy. Major pharmacological agents used to treat cancer pain often lack anatomical specificity and can have off-target effects that create new sources of suffering. These concerns establish a need for improved cancer pain management. Gene therapy is emerging as an exciting prospect. This paper discusses the potential for viral vector-based treatment of cancer pain. It describes studies involving vector delivery of transgenes to laboratory pain models to modulate the nociceptive cascade. It also discusses clinical investigations aimed at regulating pain in cancer patients. Considering the prevalence of pain among cancer patients and the growing potential of gene therapy, these studies could set the stage for a new class of medicines that selectively disrupt nociceptive signaling with limited off-target effects.

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