Approximately 20 per cent of Canadians suffer from chronic pain, making it not only the number one reason that people seek health care, but also the number one concern of patients with long-term illnesses. Chronic pain drains more than $10-billion annually in lost productivity and health-care services from the Canadian economy, which is more than the cost of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. Moreover, there is a personal toll associated with chronic pain that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Patients living with this condition face challenges such as social isolation, increased risk of suicide, and greater mortality rates. Chronic pain conditions are very difficult to treat and our existing treatment approaches are largely inefficient. One of the reasons of inefficiency of current treatment approaches is heterogeneous nature of chronic pain, as people develop pain for multitude of diverse reasons and each individual has many ways to deal with a disease. My primary objective is to better understand the genetic mechanisms at the roots of chronic pain as a basis for developing new pain-relief drugs and personalized pain therapy strategies. To accomplish this goal, my colleagues and I study chronic pain mechanisms and risk factors through genetic analysis of well-characterized populations of pain patients, through the mapping out the molecular mechanisms that mediate the biological, psychological, and genetic factors that contribute to the onset and persistence of chronic pain.
Guest: Luda Diatchenko (Professor, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Human Pain Genetics, Dept. Genetics, McGill University)
February 25, 2015 at 4:07 pm