Dr. Yenisel Cruz-Almeida has been awarded a National Institutes of Health R01 award funded by the National Institute on Aging titled: Mechanisms of Oxytocin’s Analgesia in Older Adults.
In collaboration with UF oxytocin researcher Dr. Natalie Ebner, the funded work will examine how oxytocin impacts pain processing and modulation in older individuals with chronic pain. Older adults are at an increased risk to develop prolonged pain and experience greater pain-related loss of physical and psychosocial function compared to younger persons. In particular, osteoarthritis (OA) represents the leading cause of disability in this vulnerable segment of the population and currently available OA pain therapies are only partially effective. Thus, novel treatment approaches are urgently needed.
The goal of the project is to understand how changes in brain biochemistry, structure and function predicts in whom oxytocin provides pain relief. This study will contribute to Dr. Cruz-Almeida’s long-term goal to increase our understanding of the inter-individual neurobiological variability of the pain experience that may inform targeted therapeutic approaches.