Chronic pain may or may not have biological value and even persist past normal tissue healing. This severely impacts the quality of life, limiting physical activity and creating sleep disorders. Chronic pain from tissue inflammation or damage (as in rheumatoid arthritis and cancer pain) is mostly treated with opioids. Limited research has shown that opioids lose their efficacy over a period of time and their over-use has created one of the worst public health crises in American history.
Novel therapies are urgently needed to treat chronic and persistent pain.
Dr. Niels Eijkelkamp’s research group at Utrecht University has developed a novel approach using anti-inflammatory cytokines that have been shown to inhibit chronic pain. Anti-inflammatory cytokines complement each other’s modes of action and unfortunately have a short half-life. Dr. Eijkelkamp’s lab overcame these drawbacks by fusing interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) into one molecule and showed (in mouse models) that this fusion protein is more effective than the individual cytokines or IL-4 plus IL-10 combination therapy for persistent inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain.
Their methods, describing the production and quality control of IL-4 + IL-10 recombinant fusion protein, are published in a recent JoVE article.
The IL-4 + IL-10 recombinant fusion protein is a promising new drug to treat persistent pain. If successful, this approach may be used to develop other such novel fusion molecules and therapeutics.