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An international collaboration of scientists, led by Alexander Davies and Simon Rinaldi from the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, has found that specialised cells within the body’s immune system - Natural Killer cells - play a significant role in removing damaged nerve fibres.

Natural killer cells used to treat chronic pain by removing damaged nerves after injury © Alexander Davies

It is already known that Natural Killer cells play an important role in fighting cancer, in both mice and humans. In some cancer treatments, their function is enhanced by using drugs to make the cells more active.

In this new pain research, funded by the National Research Council of Korea, the MRC, NIH and ERC, the team used a similar approach to make the Natural Killer cells more effective in removing damaged nerve fibres in mice. They showed that better removal of these damaged fibres reduced the hypersensitivity associated with chronic nerve pain.

Read more (University of Oxford website)