Molecular mechanisms that contribute to skeletal pain

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Number of Honour Places Available
Number of Master Places Available
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Jason Ivanusic
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Michael Morgan

Summary Pain associated with skeletal pathology or disease puts a significant burden (both in terms of quality of life and cost) on individuals, society, and the health care systems worldwide. Pain is the major reason why most of these patients present to the clinical environment. Opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to treat mild to severe bone pain, but therapeutic use over long periods required to treat chronic or intractable bone pain is limited by severe and undesirable side-effects. There is a clear need to identify alternative approaches for the management of skeletal pain. Our aim is to explore how peripheral sensory neurons that innervate bone contribute to the experience of skeletal pain, and how their function is affected by skeletal pathology and disease.

Project Details

Skeletal pain is transmitted by two classes of peripheral nociceptors. Aδ nociceptors are medium-diameter myelinated neurons that transmit fast, intense pain, of the sort experienced in fracture and breakthrough cancer pain. C nociceptors are small-diameter unmyelinated neurons that encode slow, burning pain, of the sort experienced in cancer and osteoarthritis. A number of ion channels and receptors are emerging as important modulators of the activity of peripheral bone nociceptors. Identifying these regulators of nerve activity and better understanding their role in generation of bone pain could open up avenues for development of tools to selectively manipulate pain originating from bone. In this project, we will use a variety of techniques and animal models to explore roles for different ion channels and receptors in generating and/or maintaining skeletal pain. We are currently interested in modelling experimental inflammation of the bone marrow, osteoarthritis and bone cancer induced skeletal pain. Depending on the particular ion channel or receptor that is being explored, students can expect to gain experience in working with animal models of skeletal pathology, an in vivo electrophysiological bone-nerve preparation, neuroanatomical tracing and immunohistochemistry, small animal handing, anaesthesia, surgery and/or dissection.

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Honours students, Master of Biomedical Science
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

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