Healthcare: On the Agenda - Breakthrough in chronic pain relief

In a nutshell

A gene responsible for regulating chronic pain has been discovered by scientists, who say the breakthrough will help develop more effective painkillers. Scientists from Cambridge University said if drugs could be designed to block the protein produced by the HCN2 gene, they could treat neuropathic pain and implement new therapeutic approaches for sufferers of many illnesses.

Why is it important?

One in 100 people in the UK suffers from neuropathic pain, which is linked to nerve damage and can affect people with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, arthritis or lower back pain. Pain costs health providers £176bn a year in Europe and £94bn in the US. The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the European Union, lays the groundwork for the development of new drugs to treat chronic pain.

PR strategy

The media outreach was handled by the in-house PR team at Cambridge University, which placed the report in the high-profile medical journal, Science. The story was then sent out via by press release by the university's press office and picked up by newswires including Reuters.

Media coverage

The story was picked up by national print and online press including the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC News website. It was also covered in trade media such as New Scientist and on medicalxpress.com and was discussed widely on medical forums.

1% - Proportion of people in the UK who suffer from neuropathic pain

£176bn - Cost of pain treatment for health providers per year in Europe.

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