One in five Europeans suffers from chronic pain – and inadequate or incorrect pain treatment can cause huge burdens for individuals and society.
The PAIN-Vis initiative aims to respond to this challenge by enabling faster and more accurate diagnosis. The research project focuses on investigating molecular pathological changes in peripheral pain. Researchers are using a tracer that is already used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET): The tracer forms a strong bond with PSMA, an enzyme that plays an important role in glutamate production in the nervous system. Preliminary preclinical results indicate that PSMA increases locally with pain intensity and can be visualized by the radiotracer.
If validated, this could open up opportunities to develop an objective diagnosis process by identifying the exact location of pain. This would be a valuable addition to existing pain diagnosis processes that rely on self-assessment by the patient. Many patients find this self-assessment difficult – particularly groups like disabled people, dementia patients or children. If PAIN-Vis is successful, it could reduce the length of time that patients suffer while also avoiding unnecessary therapeutic measures and cutting costs for the health care system.