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C. How an Anti-Seizure Drug Treats Chronic Pain

Narrator: This is Science Today. You may not have guessed it, but medications designed to treat depression and epilepsy can also be effective at treating chronic pain. Dr. Michael Rowbotham, director of the University of California, San Francisco's Pain Clinical Research Center, explains how drugs that target specific chemicals can treat various disorders.

Rowbotham: The tricyclic antidepressants were discovered actually before the 1960s to relieve pain in some patients. It was only later figured out that the chemical transmitters in the brain and spinal cord, serotonin and norepinephrine, were actually very important at how pain signals were regulated.

Narrator: So one drug could treat both disorders. The same is true for anti-seizure drugs and chronic pain.

Rowbotham: Damaged nerves can generate electrical signals that look very much like what is seen in the brain during an epileptic fit. And anti-seizure drugs that work on sodium channels and calcium channels are the two types that seem to be the most effective for treating chronic pain.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.