Researchers at the University of Utah have recently figured out a way to use CRISPR gene-editing techniques to reduce chronic pain and inflammation.
Normally, inflammation around damaged tissue signals various cells to produce molecules that destroy the damaged tissue. However, this can quickly devolve into chronic pain when the tissue destruction does not stop.
The researchers have found a way to use CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) to relieve and prevent chronic pain. Unlike most popular CRISPR techniques, theirs does not involve altering the gene sequences– it instead relies upon epigenetics, and modifying the expression of the genes in the cytokine receptors in inflammatory areas, to prevent cells from producing the molecules that destroy tissue.
The treatment is delivered through a virus, which is injected into the inflammatory site. It is more potentially therapeutic than current treatments for chronic pain, in that it actually prevents tissue destruction and future pain, rather than just relieving present pain. The method is approximately ten years away from being used to treat human patients.