J&JPRD discovery may lead to new treatments for chronic sensitivity, pain caused by cold

Raritan, NJ (May 2, 2007) -- Researchers at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. (J&JPRD) today announced that they have discovered a biological basis for explaining how people sense cold temperatures.

Ultimately, these findings may be a critical step in developing treatments for patients who suffer from hypersensitivity to cold, such as occurs in neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndromes. This research is published in the May 3, 2007 issue of Neuron.

In the study, researchers sought to understand the mechanisms underlying cold sensitivity. Scientists used a line of mice that lacked a critical ion channel receptor called TRPM8, also referred to as the cold menthol receptor 1. Then, they tested how these mice reacted to cold stimuli, and found that not having these receptors reduced their adverse reactions to the cold, both under normal and pathological conditions. Results suggest that TRPM8 modulation could play an important role in certain types of cold-induced pain in humans and could hold therapeutic potential in the treatment of many chronic, painful conditions for which there are currently limited effective treatment options.

"This work represents the culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort on the part of J&JPRD scientists to help explain fundamental mechanisms involved in human pain states and may lead to the development of innovative medicines to relieve patient suffering," said Christopher Flores, Ph.D., Biology Team Leader for Analgesics, J&JPRD. "Although preliminary, these findings provide compelling initial evidence toward validating TRPM8 as an analgesic drug target and addressing major unmet medical needs of pain patients."

Ion channels are proteins that form tiny openings through the membrane of a cell and allow the passage of certain ions that regulate cellular activities. Some of these channels are opened by chemicals, some by changes in voltage and othe

Contact: Lisa Vaga
Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C.

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