Al-Hasani Awarded $2.1 Million NIH Grant

Published on 20 April 2022

Ream Al-Hasani, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical science at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, was the recent recipient of a five-year, $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further her research on cold pain hypersensitivity.

Al-Hasani and her research team at the Center for Clinical Pharmacology have been studying the issue of cold hypersensitivity for several years. Utilizing their newly acquired NIH grant, the team will further examine the role of the kappa opioid system in cold hypersensitivity and cold pain.

“Painful hypersensitivity to cold is a common problem for many individuals, including those with fibromyalgia, chemotherapy patients and individuals with chronic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and diabetes, but there are currently no effective treatments,” Al-Hasani said. “This grant will allow us to examine the kappa opioid’s system’s potential to be a significant modulator of cold sensation, and a potential new point of intervention for cold hypersensitivity.”

Medications currently used to treat neuropathic pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids and anti-epileptics, but Al-Hasani notes these mediations don’t necessarily relieve or treat the heightened cold sensitivity and pain that patients experience.

“For a number of years now, my lab has been working to gain a greater understanding of the mechanisms by which the kappa opioid receptor system modulates cold hypersensitivity,” Al-Hasani said. “We are grateful for this funding from NIH because it will allow us to conduct impactful research with the potential to lead to the development of a therapeutic that could relieve the symptoms of cold hypersensitivity and cold pain.”

Established in August 2015, the Center for Clinical Pharmacology is a partnership between University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis and the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The center continues to diversify with faculty investigators currently engaged in a variety of diverse research areas. Click here to learn more

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