18 September 2009

A role for glial cell-targeting treatments for pain?

The Psychology of Pain blog links to an interesting new study from CU-Boulder. I don't want to steal too much of his post, so here's a tease:
Under normal circumstances glial cells are thought to be like housekeepers, said Watkins. They essentially clean up debris and provide support for neurons.

But, like Gremlins, they have a nasty side too
[the researchers] believe they have figured out how morphine affects glial cells and neurons. 'We've found that different receptors are involved in how morphine suppresses pain through its actions on neurons versus how morphine activates glial cells,' Watkins said. 'What this means is that you should be able to separate the suppressive effects of morphine -- its pain-reducing effects through its action on neurons -- from all of its bad effects when it excites glial cells.'

(Via Psychology of Pain.)