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DMRF Clinical Research Fellow Finds Potential Relief for Neuropathic Pain

Dr. Karim MukhidaDr. Karim Mukhida

Neuropathic pain is an excruciating kind of chronic pain that results from nerve injury. It’s also difficult to treat – conventional therapies help only a third of the people who suffer from neuropathic pain.

Dr. Karim Mukhida, a PhD student and neurosurgeon-in-training, has found a potential new way to treat neuropathic pain.

A graduate of Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Mukhida took a break from his neurosurgery residency at the University of Toronto to return to Dalhousie to work on his PhD with world-renowned neurosurgeon and brain repair researcher, Dr. Ivar Mendez. A clinical fellowship award from Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation made it possible for Dr. Mukhida to make this career move.

Dr. Mukhida has shown that transplanting a certain kind of stem cell into the spinal cord relieves the symptoms of neuropathic pain in peripheral nerve injury. These findings were published in the international journal, Stem Cell, in November 2007.

“Neuropathic pain results from the death of cells in the spinal cord that produce an amino acid called GABA,” says Dr. Mukhida. “We have engineered stem cells to produce GABA and shown that, when transplanted, they reduce signs of pain.”

While still a long way from being applied in humans, Dr. Mukhida’s work opens a new door to hope for people who suffer from neuropathic pain of all kinds.

Dr. Mukhida first began working with Dr. Mendez in his first year of medical school, with help from a DMRF studentship. “Because of the DMRF, I had an opportunity to have a mentor like Dr. Mendez,” he says. “He really inspired me to become an academic neurosurgeon. And now, DMRF funding has allowed me to pursue research I couldn’t do anywhere else in the world.”

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