Group Title: Molecular Pain 2005, 1:1
Title: Molecular pain, a new era of pain research and medicine
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 Material Information
Title: Molecular pain, a new era of pain research and medicine
Series Title: Molecular Pain 2005, 1:1
Physical Description: Archival
Creator: Gu J
Zhuo M
Caterina M
MacDermott AB
Malmberg A
Neugebauer V
Yoshimura M
Publication Date: 38366
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Bibliographic ID: UF00100244
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Open Access:


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Molecular Pain

BioMed Central


Molecular pain, a new era of pain research and medicine
Jianguo Gu* Min Zhuo2, Michael Caterina3, Amy B MacDermott4,
Annika Malmberg5, Volker Neugebauer6 and Megumu Yoshimura7

Address: 'Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, McKnight Brain Institute and College of Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
32610, USA, 2Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A8, Canada, 3Department of
Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA, 4Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics,
Columbia University, 630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA, 5Elan Pharmaceuticals, 800 Gateway Boulevard, San Francisco, CA
94080, USA, 6Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, The University of Texas Medical Branch, 301 University Blvd. RT 1069, Galveston,
TX 77555-1069, USA and 7Department of Integrative Physiology, Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University, Maidashi 3-1-1,
Higashiku, Fukuoka 812-8582, Japan
Email: Jianguo Gu*; Min Zhuo; Michael Caterina;
Amy B MacDermott; Annika Malmberg; Volker Neugebauer;
Megumu Yoshimura
* Corresponding author

Published: 14 January 2005
Molecular Pain 2005, 1:1 doi: 10.1 186/1744-8069- 1-1

Received: 03 January 2005
Accepted: 14 January 2005

This article is available from: I1/I/
2005 Gu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Molecular pain is a relatively new and rapidly expanding research field that represents an advanced
step from conventional pain research. Molecular pain research addresses physiological and
pathological pain at the cellular, subcellular and molecular levels. These studies integrate pain
research with molecular biology, genomics, proteomics, modern electrophysiology and
neurobiology. The field of molecular pain research has been rapidly expanding in the recent years,
and has great promise for the identification of highly specific and effective targets for the treatment
of intractable pain. Although several existing journals publish articles on classical pain research,
none are specifically dedicated to molecular pain research. Therefore, a new journal focused on
molecular pain research is needed. Molecular Pain, an Open Access, peer-reviewed, online journal,
will provide a forum for molecular pain scientists to communicate their research findings in a
targeted manner to others in this important and growing field.

The word pain is thought to derive from the Latin word
poena, meaning punishment. An emotional reaction to a
punishment might have been what Aristotle experienced,
as he defined pain as an emotional event. Rene Descartes,
the seventeenth-century philosopher and scientist, pic-
tured a pain pathway consisting of a thread with two ends:
one end is in a peripheral part of the body, for example a
toe, and the other end is a bell in the brain. According to
this picture, fire touching a toe pulls the thread, and rings
the bell to sound a warning in the brain. Over the past
decades, and in the current Decade of Pain Control and

Research (2001-2010), pain research has undergone
major changes, from a system level to cellular, subcellular
and molecular levels. A new era of molecular pain
research is now emerging, and the journal Molecular Pain
is dedicated to this modern phase of pain research.

Recent advances in pain research are in large part due to
the rapid progress in neuroscience, molecular biology,
and other fields in the life sciences. Breakthroughs in bio-
medical technologies have allowed us to address many
important issues about pain, enriching our knowledge

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about the mechanisms by which sensory signals including
pain are initiated, encoded, conducted, transmitted, mod-
ulated, and perceived. For example, sensory molecular
biology has led to the molecular cloning and identifica-
tion of a number of receptors involved in thermal,
mechanical, and nociceptive signalling at the periphery,
some of which have been targeted for pain management.
Modem electrophysiology has been used to demonstrate
the critical roles of synaptic plasticity in pain processing in
the spinal cord and the brain. Long-term potentiation and
long-term depression at synapses of central sensory
regions have delineated the 'memory of pain' by neuronal
circuitry along pain transmitting pathways. Functional
imaging of supraspinal areas has revealed central areas
related to pain processing (for example, areas coding
behavioral learning and memory) and, more signifi-
cantly, it has now become possible to see the alteration of
these signalling pathways under chronic pain conditions.
Finally, genomics and proteomics have been applied to
pain research to help identify the changes in the array of
molecules present in cells under chronic pain conditions.
Research within all these fields will provide a better
understanding of the physiological and pathological
mechanisms of pain.

Pain research at the cellular, subcellular, and molecular
levels has provided insights that help guide the treatment
and management of intractable pain conditions including
neuropathic pain, cancer pain and other chronic pain con-
ditions. At the same time, these efforts continue to pro-
vide scientific insights into an inherently fascinating
biological process. New molecules related to pain con-
tinue to be cloned and identified. It should be stressed
that a 'non-pain molecule' under physiological conditions
can become a 'pain molecule' under pathological condi-
tions. This might be an underlying mechanism for spon-
taneous pain or pain sensation elicited by innocuous
stimuli. Thus, the aims of molecular pain research should
include 'non-pain molecules'. One big task facing us is
that many of the pain-related genes or proteins that have
been identified are also important for other neuronal
functions in the spinal cord and the brain. Pain triggers
various responses in the spinal cord and the brain, includ-
ing reflexes, conscious perception, cognitive learning and
memory processes, emotional reaction such as depres-
sion, and drug addiction. Thus, molecules that are associ-
ated with pain are not only those located on the
peripheral nerve endings for the sensing and encoding of
stimuli, but also molecules that are present along sensory
paths from the spinal cord to the brain for integrating and
modulating sensory information. Molecular targets at dif-
ferent levels along sensory pathways are key to future
identification of new drugs and therapies that effectively
manage intractable pain conditions with low side effects.
Molecular pain research will offer new opportunities for

drug development in the pharmaceutical industry and
improved treatment options in the clinical setting.

In our journey to explore pain mechanisms and to iden-
tify effective targets for pain management, it is important
for scientists around the world to have a rapid and freely
accessible forum for exchanging ideas, debating hot top-
ics, developing collaborations, promoting science, and
improving pain medicine. As an online, Open Access jour-
nal, Molecular Pain will help to fulfil these goals. The jour-
nal's Open Access policy changes the way in which articles
are published. Firstly, all articles become freely and uni-
versally accessible online, and so an author's work can be
read by anyone at no cost. Secondly, the authors hold cop-
yright for their work and grant anyone the right to repro-
duce and disseminate the article, provided that it is
correctly cited and no errors are introduced. Thirdly, a
copy of the full text of each Open Access article is perma-
nently archived in an online repository separate from the
journal. Molecular Pain's articles are archived in PubMed
Central (, the US
National Library of Medicine's full-text repository of life
science literature, and also in repositories at the University
of Potsdam (
homegd.htm) in Germany, at INIST (
index en.php) in France and in e-Depot (httnp:/, the National Library of the Nether-
lands' digital archive of all electronic publications.

The launch of Molecular Pain would not have been possi-
ble without the strong support of many neuroscientists
who have carried out pain-related research for many years.
Molecular Pain has a strong editorial board with wide
expertise in pain-related research, from peripheral sensory
receptors to cortical sensory processing centers. Molecular
Pain's editorial board members have committed to sup-
port the journal by helping identify important and inter-
esting research manuscripts, serving as reviewers, and
directly contributing their work to the journal. We aim to
publish papers in a timely fashion. Each manuscript will
be peer-reviewed by two experts, and the review process is
anticipated to be completed within three weeks. Once
accepted, papers will be published online immediately,
and they will be listed in PubMed as soon as possible after
publication. We hope that Molecular Pain will become a
high impact journal, a journal that provides new direc-
tions for pain research and medicine, and a home for cre-
ative scientists. We welcome researchers and clinicians as
readers of and contributors to, Molecular Pain.

Competing interests
The authors) declare that they have no competing inter-

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