The Millennium Nucleus seeks to develop neuroscientific research on pain and train specialists in the scientific and clinical area to understand the condition in a comprehensive way. 

With the aim of developing translational neuroscience research on pain and for the formation of advanced human capital in the scientific and clinical area, the Millennium Nucleus MiNuSPain is born, which associates five research groups, whose competencies range from cutting-edge biomedical research to clinical studies whose collaborations are reflected in projects, publications, international conferences and joint thesis supervision.

The center’s axis of action is the determination of the key molecular targets involved in neuropathic pain. In particular, focused on the study of cellular and molecular mechanisms in preclinical and clinical models.

However, the creation of the center was not an easy task. This is what Margarita Calvo, director of the Millennium Nucleus MiNuSPain, confesses. Multiple applications were needed so that in the third, finally, the funds could be awarded to create this project.


Margarita Calvo, Director of the Millennium Nucleus for the study of pain, MiNuSPain. Photo: Andrés Pérez.

The focus on pain was born from the career that all the specialists at the center have developed, conducting various research and academic papers both in Chile and abroad.

“This millennium initiative brings together different researchers working on the same topic, but who have different experiences, and who can collaborate with each other to create synergy. The idea is that, between all of us, make the best of what each one has. So, working together to be able to do a transnational work, more aimed at what is affecting patients today, ”says Calvo.

Studying pain

The director of the center has had an outstanding career in pain research, completing a master’s degree in pain management, a master’s degree in diseases of the peripheral nervous system in Milan to finally do a post-doctorate at the IMI EuroPain Consortium at Oxford University / King’s College London.

Photo: PXHere

However, Calvo’s studies have not only remained in the academic field, but he has complemented it with his clinical work carried out in the Pain Unit of the UC Christus Health Network, in addition to teaching classes as an associate professor at the Faculty of Biological Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Calvo points out that pain always seemed to her to be a very important clinical problem, especially in patients with chronic pain, not those who are in palliative care, but rather people who have long-lasting pain, who have not been able to get treatment, even though your body may appear to be fine and working well, the pain can be so great that it is disabling.

“The quality of life of patients is spoiled a lot and the truth is that the treatments that exist now are bad. On the one hand, we have opioids, morphine and its derivatives, which are good for relieving pain, but which generate adverse effects such as addiction, tolerance. So we cannot use these drugs, they are used for palliative care, but not for patients with chronic pain ”, explains the doctor.




Opioid-based Hydrocodone tablets at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio. Photo: Bryan Woolston / Reuters.

Calvo explains that the other existing medications for the treatment of pain do not fully meet their objective either. Out of every six patients to whom this drug is administered, one will have relief of half their pain, «one would like everyone to improve 100% and the truth is that the drugs we have are much worse» , adds the specialist.

This is why the director of the MiNuSPain center emphasizes that pain is a very important public health problem, where many resources are spent on treating it, on licenses, on people who cannot work and current treatments are not effective. «It is a real problem that we must find alternatives with the investigation,» he says.

The lines of research currently led by Calvo are how potassium channels can regulate the excitability of sensory neurons that detect pain, and how axonal degeneration of sensory afferents in the skin can produce neuropathic pain, specifically in patients with diseases of the the skin, such as Epidermolysis Bullosa, a condition that causes severe blisters with consequent damage to skin fibers.




 «Our final idea is to understand the mechanisms of pain, how pain works in the body, to investigate the mechanisms to provide the basis so that later, other researchers can find therapies using this information,» says Calvo.

The center will also help train scientists to study pain, since there are few in Chile and the idea of ​​MiNuSPain is to have doctoral students, post-doctorates, to be a platform for new scientists who dedicate themselves to studying pain and can advance in his career.

“We want to spread science. That the problem of pain is known, that it is known what pain is, how it works. How does pain affect the lives of the people who suffer it and try to raise awareness about this issue ”, concludes Calvo.


Credits: https://www.latercera.com/que-pasa/noticia/cuando-el-dolor-es-cronico-e-invalidante-investigadores-crean-minuspain-el-primer-centro-cientifico-del-pais-para-estudiar-este-mal/7V2KHGG4TJHKHMOBJD2DVAKNRM/