The complexity of chronic pain and the challenges of pharmacotherapy highlight the importance of development of new approaches to pain management. Gene therapy approaches may be complementary to pharmacotherapy for several advantages. Gene therapy strategies may target specific chronic pain mechanisms in a tissue-specific manner. The present collection of articles features distinct gene therapy approaches targeting specific mechanisms identified as important in the specific pain conditions. Dr. Fairbanks group describes commonly used gene therapeutics (herpes simplex viral vector (HSV) and adeno-associated viral vector (AAV)), and addresses biodistribution and potential neurotoxicity in pre-clinical models of vector delivery. Dr. Tao group addresses that downregulation of a voltage-gated potassium channel (Kv1.2) contributes to the maintenance of neuropathic pain. Alleviation of chronic pain through restoring Kv1.2 expression in sensory neurons is presented in this review. Drs Goins and Kinchington group describes a strategy to use the replication defective HSV vector to deliver two different gene products (enkephalin and TNF soluble receptor) for the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia. Dr. Hao group addresses the observation that the pro-inflammatory cytokines are an important shared mechanism underlying both neuropathic pain and the development of opioid analgesic tolerance and withdrawal. The use of gene therapy strategies to enhance expression of the anti-pro-inflammatory cytokines is summarized. Development of multiple gene therapy strategies may have the benefit of targeting specific pathologies associated with distinct chronic pain conditions (by Guest Editors, Drs. C. Fairbanks and S. Hao).
- Gene therapy
- Viral vectors