Chu Research Lab Human Pain and Opioid Physiology Research

Welcome to the Chu Human Pain and Opioid Physiology Laboratory at Stanford University

CHU LAB 2009

Welcome to the Chu lab website. The current projects being conducted in our lab focus on translational pain and opioid physiology work in humans. The overarching vision of our laboratory is to translate preclinical discoveries into meaningful therapies to treat pain and other human health problems associated with the use of pain medications.

Opioid Physiology Associated with Chronic Exposure to Opioids

Our work in pain patients focuses on individuals who suffer from chronic low back pain. We are currently finishing an NIH-funded five year double-blinded randomized controlled clinical study that prospectively examines the following hypotheses: 1) pain patients on chronic opioid therapy develop dose-dependent tolerance and/or hyperalgesia to these medications over time, 2) opiate-induced tolerance and hyperalgesia develop differently with respect to various types of pain, 3) opioid-induced hyperalgesia occurs independently of withdrawal phenomena, and 4) opiate-induced tolerance and hyperalgesia develop differently based on gender and/or ethnicity.

The study is the first quantitative and prospective examination of tolerance and hyperalgesia in pain patients and may have important implications for the rational use of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain.

We are also collaborating with Dr. Jarred Younger in studying changes that occur centrally in the brain, associated with chronic opioid exposure. Dr. Younger is imaging our patients with fMRI techniques to produce a picture of how the brain changes after chronic exposure to opioids.

We have an additional collaboration with Drs. Martin Angst and Schmeltz (Germany) to study the effects of chronic opioid exposure on inflammatory pain and the immune system.

We are also studying the effects of beta blockers to prevent opioid-induced hyperalgesia in humans through a collaboration with the Clark laboratory at Stanford.

Opioid Withdrawal

We have also recently published interesting work regarding the use of ondansetron and 5HT3 receptor antagonists in preventing opioid withdrawal in humans. This work stemmed from a collaboration between the Clark and Peltz labs who did preclinical animal and pharmacogenetic haplotype modelling implicating the 5HT3 receptor system in the withdrawal response. Our laboratory subsequently designed and conducted a series of small translational human studies that confirmed the role of 5HT3-RAs in modulating the withdrawal response in humans.

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