Monthly Archives: December 2010

Digital Tylenol: Microchip Embedded Into Spine Stops Chronic Pain

Digital Tylenol: Microchip Embedded Into Spine Stops Chronic Pain

Researchers and designers at the National ICT Australia in Sydney have constructed a smart chip that,when embedded in the spine, intercepts and blocks pain messages to the brain.

The chip is housed in a biocompatible casing that is smaller than the head of a match. In turn, the chip is wired to a larger implanted device containing a battery, which charges wirelessly from an outside source, and a computer processor.

The chip is embedded to the spine, or another area between the brain and source of pain. The chip can measure the properties of signals and pick out the ones that are carrying pain to the nerve center. When the chip detects a pain signal headed towards the brain, it shoots out a 10-volt electric pulse that blocks the pain signal.

The device is designed for those with serious or chronic back or leg pain, however, it technically can be used for all kinds of pains throughout the body.

National ICT Australia

[via Popular Science]



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Scans prove that acupuncture induces clear metabolic brain changes that eliminate pain

Scans prove that acupuncture induces clear metabolic brain changes that eliminate pain
(NaturalNews) New research adds more evidence proving that acupuncture is effective at reducing and eliminating pain. Presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the new findings include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans that clearly show a positive change in the metabolic activity of patients’ brains receiving acupuncture treatment.

“Functional MRI gives us the opportunity to directly observe areas of the brain that are activated during pain perception and see the variances that occur with acupuncture,” explained lead researcher Nina Theysohn, MD, from the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology at University Hospital in Essen, Germany. “Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception was significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture.”

Eighteen volunteers agreed to participate in the study, and all were observed using fMRI technology. Researchers applied electrical pain stimuli to the participants’ left ankles and observed their brain activity both with and without acupuncture treatment. The team found that the pain activation centers in the participants’ brains became less active and even deactivated in the presence of acupuncture treatment.

The findings also challenge some notions that acupuncture works primarily as a placebo. While certain brain responses to acupuncture indicate facets of a placebo response, others clearly highlight specific mechanical activities in the brain that demonstrably reduce pain symptoms.

“Acupuncture is supposed to act through at least two mechanisms — nonspecific expectancy-based effects and specific modulation of the incoming pain signal,” said Theysohn. “Our findings support that both these nonspecific and specific mechanisms exist, suggesting that acupuncture can help relieve pain.”

Acupuncture has also been found to help improve fertility, increase heart function, and assist in helping people sleep.

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Experts find brain enzyme that makes pain last

Experts find brain enzyme that makes pain last

Thu Dec 2, 2:25 pm ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Researchers working on mice have found an enzyme in the brain that appears to make pain last after nerve injury and they hope to use it as a new target to treat chronic pain in people.

In a paper published in Science magazine Friday, the scientists in Canada and South Korea said they managed to alleviate pain after blocking the enzyme.

“It provides us with basic understanding of the brain mechanism for chronic pain,” lead author Min Zhuo, a physiology professor at the University of Toronto, wrote in an email.

“It not only provides a new possibility to design new pain medicine, but it also helps us to understand why many drugs fail to control chronic pain.”

Although painkillers have existed for long periods of time,

management of chronic pain in hospitals, and for conditions like cancer and end-of-life palliative care, is far from adequate in many places.

Zhuo and colleagues found raised levels of the enzyme “protein kinase M zeta” in a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex of the injured mice.

To confirm the enzyme’s function, they knocked out a gene in another group of mice which they believed was responsible for triggering the production of the enzyme.

They subsequently found that those mice experienced less or no chronic pain at all after nerve injury.

“The knockout mice without this enzyme may experience less or no chronic pain,” Zhuo wrote.

Zhuo and his team hope their work will help in the design of a new class of drugs that blocks this enzyme.

“Many painkillers do not work for chronic pain, especially neuropathic pain. There is great need for new drugs that can effectively control chronic pain,” Zhuo wrote.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn: Editing by Ron Popeski)



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