Did you know that the pain arthritis sufferers experience can actually make arthritis spread to other joints?
Or that chronic pain, as from fibromyalgia, can prevent a sufferer from eating, sleeping, working and even taking part in family activities? In addition, people with fibromyalgia don’t respond to opioid pain killers because the binding receptors in the brain don’t work normally, leaving these sufferers increasingly unable to function as pain forms a physiological negative feedback loop.
Chronic pain can also cause the kind of irritability that alienates family and friends, deepening depression and sometimes leading to suicide.
In fact, more people suffer from chronic pain than from diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, but most of the drugs used to treat pain are either ineffective or addictive, and the majority also cause debilitating side effects. Simple aspirin, in large enough doses to prevent pain, can create stomach ulcers. Acetaminophen causes liver damage. Naproxen sodium increases the risk of heart disease. Opiates like Celebrex, Vicodin and Percocet are highly addictive, and can’t be used long-term for pain no matter what their ads say.
Recently, however, researchers at the Chapel Hill School of Medicine in North Carolina, collaborating with University of Helsinki scientists, have discovered a revolutionary new natural pain treatment that looks to be more effective than morphine and lasts days as opposed to hours.This new medication is a protein (Prostatic Acid Phosphatase, or PAP) which was used for several decades to diagnose prostate cancer before the advent of the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.
The history of PAP started with FRAP, or fluoride-resistant acid phosphatase, a marker protein virtually identical to PAP which has been used for 50 years to track and identify pain-sensing neurons. Though previous research hinted at the shared identity of FRAP and PAP, it wasn’t until Dr. Mark Zylka (Chapel Hill) partnered with Dr. Pirkko Vihko from the University of Helsinki that studies revealed the two were identical manifestations of one another in different physiological systems. Their findings are to be published this month in the journal Neuron.
The explanation of how PAP suppresses pain is long and boring, but simply put PAP removes a phosphate group of nucleotides that trigger pain and allows adenosine, a nucleoside, to work its magic.
According to researchers, PAP will be particularly effective against both inflammatory pain (arthritis, for example) and neuropathic pain, which can be the result of diseases like diabetes, shingles, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, or a disease in itself, like fibromyalgia, Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
According to Zylka, PAP may initially be injected to relieve pain, but future modifications to the marker protein may allow it to be taken in pill form, providing chronic pain sufferers with a readily available prescription remedy for their suffering.
PAP, the marker protein, is not to be confused with PAP-IMI, an electromagnetic device based on shortwave pulsed diathermy that purports to relieve pain through electricity. The PAP-IMI, though supposedly highly rated by the National Pain Institute, was never officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and costs $58,000. Pain medication based on PAP proteins will likely cost about $3 to $5 per tablet.
In a world where stem cell researchers fudge their findings, and Big Pharma lies about the real benefits of its drugs, isn't it nice to know a few scientists are still dedicated to improving the human condition?
Disclosure: I don't own pharmaceutical company stock.