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Clinical Trials Could Help Alleviate Pain

Misfiring Nerves Often To Blame

http://www.nbc5.com/health/3237745/detail.html

April 26, 2004
Nesita Kwan
NBC5.com

People with a variety of diseases from multiple sclerosis to diabetes often struggle daily with pain. Neurologists say it's because their nerves are misfiring, sending signals to the brain that say "this hurts."

But now, pharmaceutical companies are working on a new generation of pain medication, and some of the trials are being done right here in Chicago, NBC5 HealthWatch reporter Nesita Kwan said on Monday.

For almost four years, Luster Hursey said he couldn't walk down the street without suffering pain in his feet.

"Our mailbox is out on the street," Hursey said. "[It was] hard to walk to get the mail. Your feet just hurt -- tops and bottoms."

Hursey, a diabetic, thought there was nothing he could do about his condition, called diabetic neuropathy. Then, he joined a clinical trial testing an antidepressant, a drug you wouldn't expect to help, Kwan reported.

"I didn't walk before. After taking meds [I took a] half-hour walk every day," Hursey said. "Good exercise, walk in my garden."

Doctors say clinical trials of drugs such as anti-convulsants and drugs originally designed to fight depression appear to be working for pain, Kwan reported.

Dr. Richard Blonsky, (pictured, right), of the Pain and Rehabilitation Clinic of Chicago, said doctors are fine-tuning the drugs just for the pain caused by unhealthy nerves.

"There is a tremendous need for engineered drugs drugs that are specifically designed for the purpose of trying to remediate the pain," Blonsky said.

There are hundreds of clinical trials in the Chicago area that may work for patients who are hoping to find a fix for their pain problem, Kwan reported. The Pain and Rehabilitation Clinic of Chicago currently has 12 trials.

Hursey said being part of the clinical trial was worth it.

"My pain started out real on the high end," Hursey said. "Now, it's way down on low end."
 

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