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Pain

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2020 Emerging Leaders Prize – Highly Commended – Dr Franziska Denk

Lead researcher

Dr Franziska Denk

Institution

King's College London

Status

Live

Amount awarded

£10,000

Last updated

17/12/20

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This will be a crucial step towards developing better analgesics (i.e. pain-relieving treatments) for the many individuals who have to live with pain every day.
Dr Franziska Denk
003 Franziska Denk Photo1

Dr Franziska Denk’s laboratory at King’s researches the molecular mechanisms of chronic pain. One in five of us will suffer from chronic pain at some point in our lives; that is 1.4 billion people, equivalent to the entire population of China. The nervous system of a pain patient malfunctions at many levels: the sensory neurons in our body, the spinal cord and the brain.

Dr Denk, a Lecturer at King’s, is particularly interested in the sensory neurons, which are the first to report on what happens in our environment. In chronic pain, they are known to be hypersensitive, a state thought to be caused by their exposure to substances released from non-neuronal cell types.

On being awarded the prize, Dr Denk said:

“Much of my work to date has focused on characterising the molecular profile of these non-neuronal cell types in a pain state. With the Foundation’s prize funding, this work can now be taken a step further, actually studying this miscommunication ‘in real time’, using cell culture models that combine human immune cells with stem-cell derived human nerves. This will be a crucial step towards developing better analgesics (i.e. pain-relieving treatments) for the many individuals who have to live with pain every day.”

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