Exploration of neuronal hyperexcitability in human spinal cord tissue models of pathological pain

Chronic pain is a devastating disease that lacks safe and effective treatments. Development of new pain therapeutics depends on understanding the spinal circuitry underlying chronic pain, but most previous studies focus on this circuitry in male rodents. Our previous work has developed tools for studying the spinal cord pain system using human organ donor tissue to address the translation gap in pain research. Here, we will expand on our human tissue models to study the spinal cord circuitry that underlies chronic pain using cutting-edge technology. We will use grids of electrodes called Multi-Electrode Arrays to, for the first time in history, record the electrical properties of populations of human spinal cord pain-sensing neurons. We will use these recordings to make comparisons into mechanisms of pain processing between both rats and humans, and between males and females. These fundamental studies will provide valuable insight into how pain physiology diverges and/or converges across both sex and species and will serve as building blocks from which future therapeutics can be developed.

Intern: 
Annemarie Dedek
Faculty Supervisor: 
Michael Hildebrand;Eve Tsai
Province: 
Ontario
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