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Disease Area Pain & critical care

Hurt Blocker

“There’s a tremendous need to better understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for pain,” says Zachary Campbell, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Dallas. His team has been delving into the chemical cascade that leads to pain perception – and aims to intervene by inhibiting a key protein – Poly(A)-binding protein (PABP) – using a synthetic RNA mimic.

The result was reduced pain sensitization in mice (1). PABP binds to the Poly(A) tail of messenger RNA during the formation of multiprotein complexes that regulate transcription during protein synthesis. Previous studies have found that one of those complexes, the cap-binding complex, is a key player in pain sensitization. The researchers used functional genomics to examine the specificity of PABP, and then created a chemically stabilized RNA substrate that could bind PABP and inhibit translation, which prevents the formation of the cap-binding complex – and cuts the pain response.

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About the Author

James Strachan

Over the course of my Biomedical Sciences degree it dawned on me that my goal of becoming a scientist didn’t quite mesh with my lack of affinity for lab work. Thinking on my decision to pursue biology rather than English at age 15 – despite an aptitude for the latter – I realized that science writing was a way to combine what I loved with what I was good at.
From there I set out to gather as much freelancing experience as I could, spending 2 years developing scientific content for International Innovation, before completing an MSc in Science Communication. After gaining invaluable experience in supporting the communications efforts of CERN and IN-PART, I joined Texere – where I am focused on producing consistently engaging, cutting-edge and innovative content for our specialist audiences around the world.


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