Anesthetics, Pain & Immunomodulation Research Program

This thematic program is a joint collaboration among all of our Principle Investigators to elucidate therapeutic potential(s) of anesthetic agents in modulating inflammation and pain.

Richard Minshall, Ph.D., Tobias Piegler, M.D. and Gina Votta-Velis, MD, Ph.D. work collaboratively to investigate the effects of local anesthetics on inhibition of cancer metastasis using cell culture and animal models. This research is focused on interaction between the anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic effects of local anesthetics based on the observation that regional anesthesia has been associated with reduced risk of metastasis and increased long-term survival.

Drs. Minshall, Peigler and Votta-Velis have demonstrated, in vitro, that amide local anesthetics attenuate tumor cell migration and  inhibits src signaling pathways that are associated with tumor growth and metastasis.  Their data has provided the first evidence of a molecular mechanism by which regional anesthesia may positively influence cancer metastasis (unpublished observation) during oncological surgery.

Dr. Votta-Velis is also interested in acute and chronic pain issues. She directs a clinical trial examining outcomes based on the use of intra-articular catheters vs. femoral nerve catheters in total knee replacement.  Other ongoing projects are to assess chronic pain therapies for sickle cell disease. UIC has the largest patient base of sickle cell disease in the United States providing a unique venue to enhance local health care practices.

Drs. Minshall, Hu, Weinberg and Feinstein collaborate on multiple projects to characterize protective mechanisms of inhalational anesthetics in ARDS, sepsis and neuro-inflammation.