​​​​​​​News of Note—A new approach to combating neuropathic pain; blocking an enzyme to preserve hearing

Hand holding a light bulb with a brain inside it
Breaking a connection that causes key nerve signaling could help relieve neuropathic pain. (baramee2554/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A new approach to neuropathic pain

Scientists in France are investigating a new method for relieving neuropathic pain, a common consequence of diabetes, cancer, stroke and other diseases. The researchers discovered that immune cells release a molecule called FL, which then activates a pain-causing molecule called FLT3. So they created a compound that targets the site where FL binds to FLT3, breaking the connection and preventing the events that cause pain, they reported in the journal Nature Communications. In animal studies, a single dose of the compound relieved some symptoms of neuropathic pain for 48 hours, they said. (Release)

Inhibiting an enzyme to prevent hearing loss

After screening more than 4,000 drugs, a team at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital discovered 10 compounds effective at prevent hearing loss commonly caused by the chemo drug cisplatin. Their technique also prevented mice and rats from noise-induced hearing loss, they reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. It involves inhibiting the enzyme CDK2. One inhibitor, called kenpaullone, seemed to shield the hair cells in the inner ear from toxic effects of CDK2, they said. Kenpaullone injected into the inner ears of rodents protected the animals from both cisplatin-induced and noise-induced hearing loss, they observed. (Release)

What mice teach us about regenerating the heart

Mice can completely heal after a heart attack that would cause severe heart failure—perhaps even death—in a person. But why? University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers designed a study that revealed potential therapeutic targets for people based on how mouse hearts regenerate. Specifically, they observed lipid-signaling compounds called specialized proresolving mediators (SPMs) in the heart and spleen before the heart attack, one day after it and five days later. They discovered that white blood cells called macrophages produce SPMs that are vital to heart regeneration. (Release)

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