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Identifying novel therapeutic targets for chronic neck pain:
RNA-sequencing in human painful atlanto-axial arthropathy 

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Chronic neck pain is a leading cause of disability and amasses enormous healthcare costs. The outcome of pharmacological prevention and treatment of chronic neck pain is unsatisfactory, and relies on opioids to mitigate the pain.  A diverse set of treatments exist in attempt to mitigate chronic neck pain; including but not limited to physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications, steroid injections, nerve ablations and surgery. However, many patients continue to suffer from daily pain and disability after treatment because the effects of treatment are modest at best. 

By identifying molecular pathways that drive chronic neck pain, our study may lead to discovery of target-specific therapeutics in the field of pharmacological research by identifying gene products as drug targets to reduce chronic pain.  

Participants who undergo C1-C2 fusion surgery are eligible for this study.  The study entails 5 simple physical tests performed on them during their pre-operative visit. Typically disposed tissues such as the C2 dorsal root ganglion (DRG), facet joint capsules, facet joint cartilages and connective tissues will collected and analyzed with cutting edge single cell RNA sequencing. 

This study is geared towards better understanding the role diseased tissues have on molecular mechanisms promoting chronic neck pain as these processes are currently poorly understood. Advanced RNA sequencing methods are applied to identify these molecules and deduce their role in initiating cascade reactions resulting in chronic neck pain.


This study is supported by the NIH (1R01AR078192-01A1). 

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