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Approved Research

To explore the genetic mechanisms of multiple pain phenotypes based on the UK Biobank cohort

Principal Investigator: Dr Weihua Meng
Approved Research ID: 89386
Approval date: September 16th 2022

Lay summary

During a person's life, most of us will experience certain kind of pain at some stage stages, especially when getting old. There are many site-specific pain which could exist in the human body such as back pain, hip pain, knee pain, etc. However, we have limited knowledge about the genetic mechanisms of these pain types despite some studies have suggested that genetic components play a role in the disease mechanisms. The UK Biobank has collected pain-related information through questionnaires and e-health records which could be used to define multiple pain types in different body sites. In this research, we aim to identify the genetic variants that contribute to multiple pain types through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach using the UK Biobank datasets.

Understanding the genetic factors associated with different pain types would assist in identifying biological mechanisms and potentially suggest molecular targets for pain-relieving drugs. Previous studies have suggested that many pain types have genetic contributions to the mechanisms. For example, the GDF5 and COL27A1 genes have been identified to be associated with knee pain while the SOX5 gene has been confirmed to be associated with back pain. However, there are other pain types have not been sufficiently studied and worth further investigation.

The project will last around 3 years. We will find the genetic variants for multiple pain types which will fill the gap in the current understanding of pain mechanisms. The genetic findings of our project might imitate the development of effective pain treatments such as the genetic variants with potential to be a drug target for treatments.