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New Approach To Facial Pain Research



by Michael Pasternak


Dr. Andrew Ahn, M.D., Ph.D is both a neuroscientist and neurologist at the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida. His research to find a cure for TN and Neuropathic pain is considered extremely “cutting-edged”, unique, and protected until its results are published. We recently asked Dr. Ahn to share with our “Afternoon Edition” readers what he could at this time regarding his newest research approach. The following is his report:



“Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an extremely painful and disabling condition. Presently available treatments are inadequate and further research is required to find better treatments. Present clinical and basic research focuses on the trigeminal nerve, the sensory nerve of the face, as the origin of this condition, and many treatments are designed to disrupt this trigeminal nerve or the corresponding nerve bodies within the trigeminal ganglion. For many, however, the benefit is incomplete or only temporary, despite the permanent loss of sensation to the face that results from many presently available procedures.


This clinical picture of persistent pain strongly suggests that the chronic pain of TN can cause long-lasting abnormalities within the brain. Better insight into this brain abnormality could provide important and new insights into our understanding of TN, and could enhance our ability to improve upon existing therapies or design new, more effective approaches.


Modern imaging techniques have produced remarkable insights into a range of neurological conditions. However, only a few preliminary studies have been dedicated to understanding the brain abnormalities associated with TN. And there are no studies that have explored the possibility that the pain of TN leads to long-term changes in the brain that perpetuate chronic TN pain.


This grant (from The Facial Pain Research Foundation) provides support for the initial stages of one such project, whose goal is to draw a neural signature, or “map” of TN pain. If successful, these experiments will lead to new fundamental insights into the neurobiology of TN. It is anticipated that this new knowledge will enhance our ability to identify novel targets for effective TN therapy.”


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