Research carried out at NUI Galway may advance the quest for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.
The study resulted in Dr David Finn being awarded the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Award for best paper published in an indexed journal in 2013 in the pain/anaesthesia category.
Dr Finn, a lecturer in pharmacology and the co-director of the centre for pain research and leader of the Galway Neuroscience Centre, clinched the honour for the second year running. He received his award at a ceremony held in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.
The first author of the winning paper was Dr Kieran Rea, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr Finn’s laboratory.
The winning paper confirmed the key role of a brain region called the basolateral amygdala in the suppression of pain behaviour by fear (so-called fear-induced analgesia ).
Fear-induced analgesia was associated with increases in levels of marijuana-like substances known as endocannabinoids in this part of the brain.
The research findings outlined that fear-induced analgesia was prevented by injecting a drug that blocked the receptor at which these endocannabinoids act into the basolateral amygdala.
The paper also showed that the mechanism was likely to involve interactions between the endocannabinoid system and the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems in this brain region.
An increased understanding of the biological mechanisms involved in fear-induced analgesia is important from a physiological perspective and may also advance the search for new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of pain.
Dr Finn, the senior author of the paper, said it advanced the understanding of the neurobiology of pain.
“We are very pleased that our work has been recognised for a second time with this prestigious award. This research which was funded by grants from Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, advances our fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of pain and may facilitate the identification of new therapeutic targets for the treatment of pain and anxiety disorders.”
The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland’s Doctor Awards are presented each year to Irish or Irish-based researchers who are judged to have published the best research papers in international, peer-reviewed journals.