Department of Anesthesiology researchers Sarah Linnstaedt, PhD, and Samuel McLean, MD, MPH, are PIs of an NIH HEAL Initiative project aimed at examining whether targeting a stress system protein prevents the transition from acute to chronic pain after traumatic stress exposure.
UNC investigators have been awarded a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) to determine whether pharmacologically inhibiting a key stress system protein, FKBP51, can prevent the transition from acute to chronic pain development following traumatic stress exposure. This newly funded work will build off previous research from Drs. Linnstaedt and McLean indicating that the gene encoding FKBP51 is strongly associated with chronic posttraumatic pain development following trauma exposure in humans.
“We are very excited to have been selected as one of the research groups to receive HEAL funding in order to validate and optimize inhibition of a novel target for therapeutic prevention of chronic pain,” said Linnstaedt, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and organizing PI of the award. Funding for the award is part of the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) initiative, which aims to end the national opioid public health crisis.
Drs. Linnstaedt and McLean’s labs will lead the proposed studies and will be joined by experts in various fields including medicinal chemistry (Dr. Felix Hausch, University of Darmstadt), molecular biology of persistent hyperalgesia (Dr. Sandrine Geranton, University College London), addiction and abuse liability (Dr. Joyce Besheer, UNC-CH), and cardiac safety (Dr. Joan Taylor, UNC-CH). Collaboratively, this multidisciplinary team of investigators will determine the important next steps in assessing whether pharmacological inhibition of FKBP51 prevents chronic pain behavior and would be useful to the millions of Americans experiencing trauma each year.
Further information about the ongoing opioid crisis and efforts to end it can be found on the NIH website.