Scratching the ‘itch’ behind pain management

UK-based geneticist delivers talk at Genome Foundation’s webinar

August 23, 2022 12:19 am | Updated 12:19 am IST - HYDERABAD

Are itch and pain related? In both cases, the nervous system is involved and deciphering the molecular basis of ‘itch’ has tremendous contribution to pain management. In diseases like cancer, sickle cell anaemia and others, the excruciating pain and managing it to tolerable limits is one of the challenges faced by clinicians, said paediatrician-turned-geneticist Geoff Woods from Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, UK, on Sunday.

In his talk on ‘With Extreme Phenotypes, think of Genetics, even with Itch,” organised by the city-based Genome Foundation, in collaboration with Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IDVL) Telangana branch, he said administering opioids was being intensely debated in medical practice.

Opioids, a substance found in certain prescription pain medications and illegal drugs such as heroin, are prescribed to treat pain. With prolonged use, pain-relieving effects may lessen and pain can become worse. In addition, opioid-dependency causes withdrawal symptoms, which makes it difficult to stop taking them, he explained.

Mr.Woods presented case studies of ultra-rare diseases like the ‘Congenital Itch’ inherited in families with autosomal dominant transmission of mutations in two genes, SCN10A and COL6A5. Most important finding related to this disorder is that small addition of nucleotides (small DNA changes) differentiates onset of pain.

Second is congenital insensitivity for pain caused by dominant hyper-activity mutations in the gene SCN11A and third is the Mid-facial Toddler Excoriation syndrome (MiTES) - a congenital insensitivity to pain, an autosomal recessive disorder caused by mutations in PRDM12 gene.

The webinar began with remarks by chairman of Genome Foundation K.P.C. Gandhi while dean-research V.R.Rao convened the programme. Consulting dermatologist V. Anand Kumar introduced the speaker and Genome Foundation director Aparna Kaja delivered the vote of thanks, said a press release.

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