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Highly Accessed Review

Genes and epigenetic processes as prospective pain targets

Megan Crow*, Franziska Denk and Stephen B McMahon*

Author Affiliations

Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, UK

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Genome Medicine 2013, 5:12  doi:10.1186/gm416

Published: 15 February 2013

Abstract

Chronic pain affects approximately one in five adults, resulting in a greatly reduced quality of life and a higher risk of developing co-morbidities such as depression. Available treatments often provide inadequate pain relief, but it is hoped that through deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying chronic pain states we can discover new and improved therapies. Although genetic research has flourished over the past decade and has identified many key genes in pain processing, the budding field of epigenetics promises to provide new insights and a more dynamic view of pain regulation. This review gives an overview of basic mechanisms and current therapies to treat pain, and discusses the clinical and preclinical evidence for the contribution of genetic and epigenetic factors, with a focus on how this knowledge can affect drug development.