Research Fellows Directory
Professor John Wood FMedSci
University College London
We study the mechanisms that result in a sensation of pain. About a fifth of the population have an ongoing pain problem, and a third of these people have severe problems that are inadequately treated by present day medication. Thus understanding more about pain mechanisms and finding new targets for pain killing drugs is of considerable interest. We use mouse models of human pain to address molecular mechanisms, as well as looking at human heritable pain disorders to find genes that are important for pain. We have focused on electrical signalling in the nervous system, and in particular on one protein called Nav1.7 that is essential for pain perception in man. Very interestingly we have found that pain free individuals show the same brain activity as normal people in pain - this suggests much of the literature on pain imaging is unreliable. We have also found a new mechanism that contributes to the pain free state in some unusual humans who have lost the gene for a sodium channel that sends electrical signals in response to tissue damage. These insights have allowed us to devise a new analgesic drug therapy approach that may, in the future, aid chronic pain patients.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)