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Anesthetic approach stops pain without affecting motor function
Date:2/1/2010

BOSTON, Mass. - One of the holy grails of local anesthesia is the ability to achieve a long-lasting nerve block that eliminates pain sensation while not affecting motor function. Now, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have discovered an anesthetic approach that seems to do just that. If it proves to work in humans as well as it did in rats, it could be useful in a variety of medical applications, providing, for example, a local anesthetic for childbirth that would block pain without interfering with the mother's ability to push, or for musculoskeletal disorders in which it is important to maintain mobility.

The discovery was reported in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of February 1.

The researchers, led by Daniel Kohane, MD, PhD, of the Division of Critical Care Medicine at Children's, originally sought only to find an agent that would prolong the anesthetics' effects. They focused on surfactants, a subclass of so-called "chemical permeability enhancers" that enable drugs to spread more easily throughout a tissue.

In testing three kinds of surfactant along with the anesthetics QX-314 and QX-222 (both derivatives of lidocaine), they found that this approach did prolong the sensory block in rats' sciatic nerves, for up to 7 hours or more depending on the surfactant, but didn't prolong motor impairment; in some cases the motor block was absent or of very short duration. In the rats, this meant they were able to tolerate having their paws on a hot plate for long periods, yet still able to balance and bear weight on their legs.

"This was a surprise finding," says Kohane, who also directs the Laboratory for Biomaterials and Drug Delivery (LBDD) at Children's. "What we've discovered really is a new approach; the question now is to figure out the mechanism by which it works and look at the effects of other chemical permeability enhancers."

Kohane
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Contact: Erin McColgan
erin.mccolgan@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Children's Hospital Boston
Source:Eurekalert

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