Health Editor’s Note: Many live with pain and run the risk of becoming addicted to narcotic pain killers if they need pain relief for any length of time. If pain could be relieved by a non-narcotic means, that would be a win/win situation…..Carol
Scientists find new pain-suppression center in the brain
At a Glance
- Scientists identified a group of neurons in mice that blunt pain by dampening the activity of multiple pain-processing regions of the brain.
- The neurons could be promising targets for new non-addictive therapies for chronic pain.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and many are prescribed opioid medications as treatment. But the benefits of long-term opioid treatment for chronic pain are unclear, and patients risk developing drug tolerance (needing higher doses) and hyperalgesia (increased pain sensitivity). Use of these medications may also lead to dependence or even addiction. Scientists are searching for more effective, non-addictive treatments for chronic pain.
Toward this goal, a research team led by Dr. Fan Wang of Duke University set out to find brain regions in mice that might be new targets for non-opioid pain interventions. The research was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) as part of NIH’s Helping to End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Initiative. Results appeared on May 18, 2020, in Nature Neuroscience.
Wang took a counterintuitive approach to find a pain-relief center. Most previous studies focused on finding regions that are activated by pain. Instead, Wang’s team looked for regions that are activated by surgical anesthetics such as ketamine and isoflurane, which block pain and promote aspects of sleep. ….read more: