Marijana BRAŠ, MD, PhD (University Hospital Centre, Zagreb, Croatia)


The association of COMT polymorphisms with chronic low back pain in combat related PTSD

Chronic pain disorders represent an important issue in chronic psychiatric disorders. This study will try to examine the genetic susceptibility to the variations in pain processing. By analysis of sensory, affective and intensity component of pain disorders, we will try to establish the link between catechol-O-methyl transferase single nucleotide polymorphisms and occurrence of pain disorders in PTSD. The main aim of this study is to provide better understanding of pathophysiological pathways leading to development of somatoform disorders.


The response of the brain to non-painful somatosensory stimuli before and after the induction of nociceptive long-term potentiation: An EEG study in healthy subjects.

Hyperalgesia is a common observed phenomenon in patients with chronic neurogenic pain. It has been shown that hyperalgesia can also be induced experimentally in healthy humans by applying electrical high frequency stimulation (HFS) on the skin. It is hypothesized that Long-Term Potentiation (LTP) in spinal nociceptive pathways is responsible for the observed perceptual changes in skin sensitivity after HFS, and could also be involved in the transition from acute to chronic pain. In this study we will investigate the response of the brain to non-painful somatosensory stimuli before and after the induction of nociceptive Long-Term Potentiation.

Emanuel van den BROEKE, MSc. (University Medical Centre St Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Kate LIMER, PhD (University of Manchester, Great Britain)


Investigated the role of the pain modulating DREAM pathway genes in chronic musculoskeletal pain

Research suggests that there is a genetic component to chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders but the susceptibility genes have yet to be identified. One potentially important pathway includes the DREAM gene. Experimental studies have shown that in the absence of DREAM, increased k opioid tone occurs due to increased basal expression of dynorphin resulting in a hypoalgesic response to pain stimuli suggesting that DREAM has a key role in pain modulation. The aim of this project is to determine if genetic variation in the DREAM gene pathway influences susceptibility to developing chronic pain in population-based cohorts.


Steady-state evoked potentials to explore the cortical processes underlying the perception of pain

This research project will explore the possibility of recording steady-state evoked potentials (SSEPs) to repetitive nociceptive stimulation, and determine whether this novel and non-invasive technique could be used to explore the brain processes underlying nociception and pain perception in humans. In other sensory modalities, a number of studies have indicated that SSEPs may be a correlate of early perceptual brain networks resonating at a particular frequency of stimulation. By characterizing nociceptive SSEPs, and by comparing them to non-nociceptive SSEPs, the project may lead to the identification of brain responses that are specifically involved in the perception of pain.

André MOURAUX, MD, PhD (Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium)
Gorazd SVETICIC, M.D. (University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland)


Determining optimal drug regimen in individual patients with chronic pain

The aim of the study is to find the optimal combination of different drug regimes for individual patients with neuropathic or chronic musculoskeletal pain by using a scientific method as an alternative to the empirical dose finding strategy currently used. The optimal combination is defined as the one producing the highest analgesic effect with an acceptable incidence of side effects. To this purpose, we will develop and apply for the first time a model of stepwise individual optimization of drug combination.