By Ashley Regling, MA and Jessica Reynolds, PhD
Published December 4, 2018
The 2018-2019 CTSI Seminar Series kicked off on Monday, October 29 with a presentation co-sponsored by the University at Buffalo CTSI and the School of Dental Medicine, entitled Iron in the Fire: The Role of Oxidized Linoleic Acid Metabolites in Pain by Kenneth Hargreaves, DDS, PhD, professor and chair in the Department of Endodontics and professor in the Departments of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Hargreaves is also a co-principal investigator of the Institute for Integration of Medicine and Science (the UT San Antonio CTSA hub).
Speaking to an audience of students, faculty and staff, he stressed the importance of making an impact on the opioid crisis. Although there has been a push to address this crisis, our nation has continued to see a rise in overdoses and deaths related to opioid use. As a result, there is an urgent need to develop non-opioid ways to treat pain.
In this presentation, Hargreaves provided an overview of his team’s focus on the development of fundamentally new methods to address pain. His research focuses on the “capsaicin receptor”, TRPV1, a transient receptor potential (TRP) ligand-gated ion channel that is expressed in pain-sensing neurons. TRPV1 regulates the enhanced pain processes that occur in many pain conditions. Hargreaves’ group identified that oxidized linoleic acid metabolites (OLAMs) are endogenous TRPV1 agonists. Their goal is to identify the mechanisms involved in regulating OLAMs. Once these mechanisms are identified, they can be inhibited which in turn can block pain. Therefore, novel non-opioid, non-addictive treatments for pain can be developed. (The seminar can be viewed via this link.)
The critical contribution that the CTSI can make in addressing national health crises such as the opioid overdose epidemic was emphasized by Hargreaves. “The CTSI can make a major contribution to reducing the opioid overdose by fostering clinical trials on alternative analgesics, by community engagement to promote education and community-led research on the opioid crisis and by training the next generation of translational clinical scientists.”
Hargreaves’ research is supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs through the Department of Defense, the Barker Foundation, the USSA Educational Foundation, and the Owens Foundation. He recently received two awards: the prestigious 2018 American Dental Association Gold Medal Award and the Outstanding Research Accomplishment (Individual/Academia) Award from the Military Health Research Symposium.