Scientists at the University of Michigan have recently begun further testing on research that has shown some definitive results in the area of neuropathy and chronic pain.
Neuropathy is a classic result of many maladies, cancer and diabetes being two of the major culprits, along with the ever present possibility of that awesome hereditary hand me down. The pain caused by the nerve damage is usually treated with the usual suspects, morphine being one of the larger treatment options. The difficulty comes when the pain either reaches a level that even the morphine can not touch, or the side effects from morphine become almost as unbearable as the pain. These issues are what sparked the research.
The therapy being tested currently involves injecting a form of the herpes virus into the skin and it finds its way to the peripheral nerves (those outside of the brain and spinal cord). The herpes virus is heavily modified to prevent replication and illness, but also to carry a gene that produces a painkiller that the body produces already...enkephalin. The current trial is a test as to how effective the virus is at preventing pain and how long that relief can be sustained in a human subject. Previous tests have shown that the pain relief has lasted as long as six weeks.
There are concerns as to how long the virus can last in the human body. Naturally, the immune system will detect the virus and begin to attack it, despite the evasion tactics that are programmed into the modified virus. The opposite, that the virus breaks free of its non-replicant bonds and begins to spread, is also cause for concern. Either way, the treatment holds a great amount of potential for those looking to institute more natural remedies for pain relief, as enkephalin is produced normally by the body to combat the herpes virus when present.