Professors Delve into Mysteries Behind Chronic Pain, Migraines
Two new UT Dallas faculty members will work together to unlock the mysteries surrounding migraine headaches — a condition affecting nearly 15 percent of the world's population.
Dr. Gregory Dussor
Dr. Theodore Price
“Migraine was recently ranked as the third-most prevalent disease on the planet and eighth on the list of most disabling diseases. Approximately 36 million Americans suffer from migraine and it is three times more prevalent in females than in males,” Dussor said. “Despite these numbers, there are very few scientists in the U.S. studying migraine and progress on new therapies is slow.”
Dussor researches ion channels in nociceptive receptors, or the pain sensors, in the tissue surrounding the brain called the dura. Using electrophysiological and behavioral methods, he examines how changes outside of the cell affect pain signaling to the brain.
Price, a 1997 UT Dallas graduate in neuroscience, uses a variety of techniques to research chronic pain, including molecular, biochemical, genetics and pharmacology. He focuses on how the brain’s pain sensors change after the body is injured, as well as how the brain changes after receiving persistent pain signals.
“Greg Dussor and Ted Price bring exciting new student training and research dimensions to our neuroscience program. They are leading investigators in the field of pain research,” said Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor. “It is a particular pleasure having Dr. Price, who was one of the first graduates from our undergraduate program in neuroscience, come back as a faculty member.”
Price and Dussor said they hope to shed light on the causes of chronic pain and migraine, and eventually bring help and attention to those who need it.
“We aim to discover molecules and/or circuits that cause pain to outlive its normal physiological purpose,” Price said. “In doing this, we hope to find therapeutics that will reverse, rather than palliatively treat, chronic pain.”
Price believes that many people experiencing chronic pain are reluctant to seek help because of their preconceived notions about drug abuse and opioids. Opioids, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, are among the most effective treatments for treating chronic pain and can be addictive if used incorrectly.
“Very few people understand that when used appropriately for pain, opioids very rarely become addicting,” Price said. “In practice, this means that people suffer needlessly and may develop chronic pain because they avoid opioid therapy that could alleviate their pain. We need better education in this area.”
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