Pain & Palliative Care -- Clinical Research Program

Clinical research in pain management at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center involves specialists in the fields of neurology, anesthesiology, psychiatry and psychology, and pharmacology, among others. Our work is built on a solid scientific foundation of the study of the nature of pain and the characteristics of traditional and novel methods of pain relief.

Specific areas of focus include the development of better analgesics for pain, the study of the neurological and molecular basis of pain, and the creation of better methods to enable patients to describe and rate their levels of pain.

Among our recent research accomplishments:

  • Members of our team co-authored a position paper regarding patients in a minimally conscious state and the need for more extensive research on this level of consciousness. Areas of initial focus include defining the epidemiology of the minimally conscious state, elucidating mechanisms of recovery, and identifying clinically useful diagnostic and prognostic markers that will aid decision making at the bedside. Neurology. 2007 Jan 23;68(4):304-7. [PubMed Abstract]
  • We were involved in a phase II trial showing that olanzapine combined with a single dose of dexamethasone and a single dose of palonosetron is very effective in controlling acute and delayed chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in patients receiving both highly and moderately vomit-inducing chemotherapy. Support Care Cancer. 2007 Nov; 15(11):1285-91. [PubMed Abstract]
  • We conducted studies illustrating the pharmacological importance of sigma(1) receptors in the brainstem modulation of opioid analgesia. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Sep; 322(3):1278-85. [PubMed Abstract]
  • We showed that peroxynitrite plays a role in the development of tolerance to opioids, as conversion of nitric oxide to peroxynitrite correlates with development of opioid tolerance. Blocking this conversion inhibited the development of tolerance, suggesting that peroxynitrite could be a good therapeutic target for the management of opioid-induced tolerance. J Clin Invest. 2007 Nov;117(11):3530-9. [PubMed Abstract]
  • Members of our team demonstrated that chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve results in reorganization of the dorsal root ganglion neurons and changes in the cutaneous distribution of the central and peripheral axons of the dorsal root ganglion neurons. This results in decreased sensitivity to topical analgesics. Eur J Pharmacol. 2007 Jul 30;568(1-3):124-33. [PubMed Abstract]
  • We described the successful use of parenteral methadone in a patient with prolonged QTc interval and described an approach to this problem that is widely applicable because of patients who require methadone for chronic pain or addiction purposes. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007 Nov;34(5):566-9. [PubMed Abstract]