November 7th, 2022

New University Hospital Research Chair in Pain Management

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Towards more effective and safe pain treatments than opioids?

Prof. Louis Gendron
Research Chair in Pain Management and Opioid Pharmacology

If you were one of the 8 million people in Canada who suffer from chronic pain in their lifetime, you would want a drug that has strong analgesic power but does not have overwhelming side effects or addiction. That molecule doesn't exist yet, but the new Chair in Pain Management and Opioid Pharmacology, led by Louis Gendron, expects to make significant progress in this area.

Opioids such as morphine are still among the most effective medications for treating moderate to severe pain, but they carry with them inconveniences and even health risks: nausea, constipation, respiratory depression and psychological dependence. In addition, in about 35% of people, opioid painkillers simply don't work.

For researchers like Louis Gendron, there is no question of leaving patients to their fate. Over the next five years, he will use his expertise to improve their quality of life by developing new strategies and therapies for the treatment of pain using opioid receptors as pharmacological targets.

The work is divided into two areas: the treatment of chronic pain, to develop new drugs with fewer side effects but with good pain relief; and providing alternatives that will not contribute to the opioid crisis.

Professor Louis Gendron, Chair

His multidisciplinary research program will focus on the delta opioid receptor, which has significant analgesic potential with minimal adverse effects. As an added bonus, delta antagonists are less likely to be abused and addicted.

The Chair was created thanks to philanthropic contributions from the Fondation du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS), the Centre de recherche du CHUS and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The value of these contributions now totals $1 million.

It's important for us to offer our patients the best treatments here in the region. Research is eventually transferred to care, and that's why we invest.

Martin Clermont, Executive Director, Fondation du CHUS

Training the next generation of scientists in the fields of pain, opioids and molecular pharmacology is an important part of this research chair. "We will offer scholarships to graduate students to continue their studies in my laboratory," says Prof. Gendron.

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