Israeli university joins EU project to tackle chronic pain


JERUSALEM, Nov. 10 — The Hebrew University (HU) of Jerusalem has been selected to partake in a new European Union- sponsored research initiative on the source of chronic pain, the university announced Sunday.
The ncRNAPain project, funded by the European Commission to the tune of 6 million euros (8 million U.S. dollars), is aimed at exploring the biological mechanisms underlying chronic pain syndromes that develop following nerve damage, trauma or surgery. Characterized by persistent and severe pain, they induce anxiety and depression, dramatically impacting quality of life.
Apart from the suffering to patients and their families, chronic pain also weighs heavily on European economies, HU said in a statement.
A multi-disciplinary consortium of scientists from 11 universities, medical centers and research institutes in seven countries has been pulled together for the project, among them leading neuroscientists and ncRNA experts from Austria, France, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom.
“The project seeks to identify and validate specific ncRNAs that could serve as basis for the development of new drugs for pain prevention and relief and provide a major advancement in both the knowledge of how pain is generated and relieved, and in evidence-based diagnosis and treatment,” the statement said.
The Hebrew University team, which will receive 525,000 euros ( 701,000 U.S. dollars), is headed by Hermona Soreq, a professor of molecular neuroscience and member of the Safra Center for Brain Sciences.
Soreq said her team will focus its efforts on a newly- discovered group of MicroRNAs involved in pain, “an important phenomenon which is often regarded as a symptom, whereas it should be taken more seriously as a phenomenon on its own merit, especially in older people.”
She said her team will combine sequencing tests in human blood cells with efforts to block excess MicroRNAs.
“We hope to gain new diagnostic biomarkers and find new targets for therapeutic interference,” Soreq said.[db:内容2]