Allan Basbaum, PhD
|School||UCSF School of Medicine|
|Address||1550 4th Street, Bldg 19B|
San Francisco CA 94158
My laboratory examines the mechanisms through which tissue or nerve injury result in persistent/chronic pain. A major question is the extent to which different features of the pain experience are evoked by the activity of selected subsets of "pain fibers" (i.e. nociceptors) vs. by differential patterns of activity generated across multiple populations of afferents. To understand the functional significance of the molecular complexity of the nociceptor, my group studies pain behavior in mice with deletions of different genes that code for tranducers of injury stimuli or that code for different neurotransmitter receptors and second messenger molecules. Among the many molecules that we have studied are the TRP channels (including TRPV1 and TRPM8) as well as major second messenger molecules, notably the gamma isoform of protcin kinase C, which we have implicated in the development of nerve injury-induced neuropathic pain. More recently, we have initiated a parallel series of studies that is examining the circuits that underlie the production of itch. Our focus is on the differential contribution of subsets of nociceptors to scratching behavior evoked by distinct pruritogens, including histamine, endothelin-1 and serotonin. Most recently, we have turned our attention to the possibility of overcoming the neurological consequences of peripheral nerve damage, by transplanting embryonic cortical GABAergic precursor cells into the spinal cord, a procedure that we find can ameliorate the persistent pain associated with nerve damage.
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