Role of the nerve protein TRPM3 in the development and maintenance of pain in osteoarthritis

Disease - Osteoarthritis, knee pain, hip pain

Lead applicant - Professor Stuart Bevan

Organisation - King's College London

Type of grant - Research Award

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £239,208.83

Start date - 1 September 2017

Reference - 21543

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Current pain relief drugs, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), are often inadequate to relieve pain in people with osteoarthritis, and so there is a real need for more effective treatment options. This research project aims to determine whether a protein (TRPM3) found on nerves in and around the joint can be used as a new target for pain relief drugs to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.

Why is this research important?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and is a major cause of pain in and around affected joints. Normally, pain is an important signal to reduce and prevent damage to the body. However persistent pain, like that seen in osteoarthritis, can cause the nervous system to become sensitive to previously manageable or painless stimuli, such as temperature or pressure.

This pain is first detected by nerves in and around the joint, and it is in these pain nerves that proteins called TRP proteins have been found to be important in the sensation of pain. These proteins work like a lock, opening in response to certain stimuli to allow pain signals to be transmitted from the joint to the brain, and it's for this reason they could be good targets for development of new painkillers.

One such TRP protein, TRPM3, is important in the firing of pain nerves and researchers will look at whether it is important in both the development and maintenance of pain in mice with osteoarthritis. This will allow the researchers to see whether targeting of TRPM3 can prevent and reverse the pain experienced.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Findings from this research can be used to help give a wider understanding into the pain mechanisms of osteoarthritis, and importantly see if, and how, TRPM3 can be used as a suitable target for the development of new drugs. If new targets for pain relief can be identified, then a group of drugs that provide pain relief in a different way to the drugs currently available could be developed. This will have a major impact on the quality of life of those experiencing chronic pain due to osteoarthritis.