Emerging Neurotechnology for Antinoceptive Mechanisms and Therapeutics Discovery
Black, Bryan J.
Campbell, Zachary T.
Price, Theodore J.
Pancrazio, Joseph J.
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The tolerance, abuse, and potential exacerbation associated with classical chronic pain medications such as opioids creates a need for alternative therapeutics. Phenotypic screening provides a complementary approach to traditional target-based drug discovery. Profiling cellular phenotypes enables quantification of physiologically relevant traits central to a disease pathology without prior identification of a specific drug target. For complex disorders such as chronic pain, which likely involves many molecular targets, this approach may identify novel treatments. Sensory neurons, termed nociceptors, are derived from dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and can undergo changes in membrane excitability during chronic pain. In this review, we describe phenotypic screening paradigms that make use of nociceptor electrophysiology. The purpose of this paper is to review the bioelectrical behavior of DRG neurons, signaling complexity in sensory neurons, various sensory neuron models, assays for bioelectrical behavior, and emerging efforts to leverage microfabrication and microfluidics for assay development. We discuss limitations and advantages of these various approaches and offer perspectives on opportunities for future development.
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