Aubin Moutal, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, Saint Louis University
Synaptic molecular mechanisms causing chronic pain Read More
|Keywords:||chronic pain, electrophysiology, protein biochemistry|
Synaptic molecular mechanisms causing chronic pain
The research in our group aims to discover mechanisms driving the transition from physiological (protective) to pathological (chronic) pain. Chronic pain is a devastating neurological disorder affecting nearly 20% of the global population. It is well documented that chronic pain can have a profound negative impact on a patient’s quality of life, as well as decreasing life expectancy. The utility and translational potential of pre-clinical research has recently come into question. In response to this doubt, our lab has adopted an approach using reverse translation of rare painful clinical syndromes as a guide to aid in the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. Through previous investigation and collaborations, our group filed 4 provisional patents on novel targets for chronic pain treatment and a novel therapeutic approach for migraine. We will continue to develop therapeutic strategies arising at the intersection of our ongoing fundamental research with clinical studies with the objective of developing an effective treatment for chronic pain.
My current NIH funded research program investigates a subset of rare autoimmune diseases, painful paraneoplastic encephalitis, as a gateway to discover new determinants of physiological and chronic pain. Currently, we investigate the synaptic molecular mechanisms causing chronic pain with a focus on Collapsin Response Mediator Protein 5 (CRMP5). This was inspired by a rare clinical pain condition in which patients develop autoimmunity against CRMP5 and report painful axonal asymmetric polyradiculoneuropathy as their first clinical symptom. Our approach is to reverse translate these clinical findings to characterize the mechanism by which the target of autoantibodies, CRMP5, can participate in chronic neuropathic pain. We use multiple biochemical and genetic approaches and expertise in techniques such as live cell microscopy, electrophysiology, protein biochemistry and cutting-edge approaches including micro-electrode array recording, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, proteomic analyses, peptide mapping, and single cell western blot to decipher the role of novel protein candidates in chronic pain.