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A new way to relieve severe pain without side effects

Researchers at Lund University have developed a new method for stimulating severe pain that provides pain relief without side effects.

Medication often causes side effects that can affect the ability to function in daily life. Now, researchers at Lund University have developed a stimulation method that almost completely blocks pain without affecting feeling or motor skills and that does not give the usual side effects.

The Lund research team was relieved Jens Schoenberg, Professor of Neurophysiology, including The study was published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Provides individualized pain relief

The electrodes activate the pain control centers in the brain and block pain by preventing signals from being sent only in the pain pathways to the cerebral cortex. The project has been going on for several years and researchers have developed a tissue-friendly gelatin-based technology as well as surgical techniques that enable the implementation of the flexible microelectrodes with very high accuracy.

“The electrodes are as soft as seaweed and very gentle on the brain. They are used to specifically activate pain control centers in the brain without simultaneously activating the neuronal circuits that cause side effects. The method works by implanting a set of ultra-thin electrodes and then choosing a combination of Subsidiaries of electrodes that provide pure pain relief, but without side effects. This procedure allows for a highly precise and individualized stimulation therapy that has been shown to be effective in each individual,” explains Jens Schoeneburg, who heads the Neuronano Research Center at Lund University, in press release.

It should work on many types of pain

The new technology, according to the researchers, should work on most types of pain. Jens Schouenborg says they compared the method with morphine and it turned out that morphine gave significantly worse pain relief. Morphine also provides powerful sedation and other cognitive effects.

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“We achieved near-complete pain blockage without affecting other sensations and motor skills, which is a major achievement in pain research. Our results demonstrate that it is indeed possible to achieve robust pain relief free of side effects, something that has been very challenging in the past,” he explains. Matilda Forney, PhD student and first author of the new pain study, in the press release.

It should be able to treat other than pain

The researchers hope that within five to eight years this method will lead to a satisfactory stimulation treatment for people with particularly severe pain, such as cancer pain or spinal cord injury pain, since there are currently no satisfactory treatments for pain. The researchers believe the method can also be used for treatment other than pain.

“This method can be tailored to essentially all parts of the brain, so we think it could also be used in treating degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, but also in depression, epilepsy and possibly stroke as well,” Jens Schouenborg says in the press release.

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