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Papers of the Week

Papers: 15 Jun 2024 - 21 Jun 2024


Adv Neurobiol



Enkephalin Rescues Temporomandibular Joint Pain-Related Behavior in Rats.


Westlund KN, Iddings AC


Temporomandibular joint disorders include a variety of clinical syndromes that are difficult to manage if associated with debilitating severe jaw pain. Thus, seeking additional experimental therapies for temporomandibular joint pain reduction is warranted. Targeted enkephalin gene therapy approaches provide clear promise for pain control. The studies detailed here indicate significant analgesia and protection of joint tissue are provided after injection of an overexpression viral vector gene therapy near the joint. The viral vector gene therapy described provides overexpression of naturally occurring opioid peptides after its uptake by trigeminal nerve endings. The viral vectors act as independent “minipump” sources for the opioid peptide synthesis in the neuronal cytoplasm producing the intended biological function, reduction of pain, and tissue repair. The antinociceptive effects provided with this delivery method of opioid expression persist for over 4 weeks. This is coincident with the expected time frame for the duration of the transgene overproduction of the endogenous opioid peptide before its diminution due to dormancy of the virus. These experimental studies establish a basis for the use of replication-defective herpes simplex type 1-based gene therapy for severe chronic inflammatory temporomandibular joint destruction and pain. As innovative means of significantly reducing joint inflammation and preserving tissue architecture, gene therapies may extend their clinical usefulness for patients with temporomandibular joint disorders.