Navigation Links
Electric stimulation of brain releases powerful, opiate-like painkiller

ANN ARBORResearchers used electricity on certain regions in the brain of a patient with chronic, severe facial pain to release an opiate-like substance that's considered one of the body's most powerful painkillers.

The findings expand on previous work done at the University of Michigan, Harvard University and the City University of New York where researchers delivered electricity through sensors on the skulls of chronic migraine patients, and found a decrease in the intensity and pain of their headache attacks. However, the researchers then couldn't completely explain how or why.

The current findings help explain what happens in the brain that decreases pain during the brief sessions of electricity, says Alexandre DaSilva, assistant professor of biologic and materials sciences at the U-M School of Dentistry and director of the school's Headache & Orofacial Pain Effort Lab.

In their current study, DaSilva and colleagues intravenously administered a radiotracer that reached important brain areas in a patient with trigeminal neuropathic pain (TNP), a type of chronic, severe facial pain. They applied the electrodes and electrically stimulated the skull right above the motor cortex of the patient for 20 minutes during a PET scan (positron emission tomography). The stimulation is called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).

The radiotracer was specifically designed to measure, indirectly, the local brain release of mu-opioid, a natural substance that alters pain perception. In order for opiate to function, it needs to bind to the mu-opioid receptor (the study assessed levels of this receptor).

"This is arguably the main resource in the brain to reduce pain," DaSilva said. "We're stimulating the release of our (body's) own resources to provide analgesia. Instead of giving more pharmaceutical opiates, we are directly targeting and activating the same areas in the brain on which they work. (Therefore), we can increase the power of this pain-killing effect and even decrease the use of opiates in general, and consequently avoid their side effects, including addiction."

Most pharmaceutical opiates, especially morphine, target the mu-opioid receptors in the brain, DaSilva says.

The dose of electricity is very small, he says. Consider that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is used to treat depression and other psychiatric conditions, uses amperage in the brain ranging from 200 to 1600 milliamperes (mA). The tDCS protocol used in DaSilva's study delivered 2 mA, considerably lower than ECT.

Just one session immediately improved the patient's threshold for cold pain by 36 percent, but not the patient's clinical, TNP/facial pain. This suggests that repetitive electrical stimulation over several sessions are required to have a lasting effect on clinical pain as shown in their previous migraine study, DaSilva says.

The manuscript appears in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. The group just completed another study with more subjects, and the initial results seem to confirm the findings above, but further analysis is necessary.

Next, researchers will investigate long-term effects of electric stimulation on the brain and find specific targets in the brain that may be more effective depending on the pain condition and patients' status. For example, the frontal areas may be more helpful for chronic pain patients with depression symptoms.


Contact: Laura Bailey
University of Michigan

Related medicine news :

1. Power generation technology based on piezoelectric nanocomposite materials developed by KAIST
2. Popularity Causing Several Week Lag In Delivery Of 'Plug In' Device To Start Saving On Electricity Between 8% and 20%
3. Avid Collector Seeks Jimi Hendrix 1968 Electric Factory Philadelphia Concert Poster
4. Electrical brain stimulation can alleviate swallowing disorders after stroke
5. Cochrane finds no reliable evidence on effectiveness of electric fans in heatwaves
6. Electric Fans May Have No Effect in Extreme Heat: Study
7. Unprecedented accuracy in locating brain electrical activity with new device
8. Electrical Brain Stimulation Curbs Epileptic Seizures in Rats
9. Electrical characteristics of printed products determined in a snap
10. New electrically-conductive polymer nanoparticles can generate heat to kill colorectal cancer cells
11. After 100 years, understanding the electrical role of dendritic spines
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... District , the only authorized OSHA Training Institute Education Center headquartered in Northern ... protecting their workers from extreme heat at their worksites. Employers with workers ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... California (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... "FCPX ... fully customizable inside of Final Cut Pro X," said Christina Austin - CEO of ... unique style. Final Cut Pro X users can now reveal the media ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... TherapySites, ... its affiliation with Tennessee Counseling Association. This new relationship allows TherapySites ... Tennessee Counseling Association, adding exclusive benefits and promotional offers. , "TCA is extremely ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ePAY ... partnership with Connance, a healthcare industry leader providing predictive analytics to optimize ... combine to provide health systems, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers with dramatic ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... A revolution is underway. ... transport experience for the millions of people who require these medical transport services ... industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS has put forth an industry-changing ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... 2016 One of Australia,s successful ... of a new biotechnology company, Noxopharm Limited [ABN 50 608 966 ... and to list on the ASX. Noxopharm is a ... enter a Phase 1 clinical study later this year. ... of the biggest problems facing cancer patients - the ability of ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: JAZZ ) announced ... Act of 1976, as amended ("HSR"), with respect to ... CPXX ) expired effective June 24, 2016, ... previously announced on May 31, 2016, Jazz Pharmaceuticals and ... Jazz Pharmaceuticals has commenced a tender offer for all ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... 27, 2016  VMS Rehab Systems, Inc. ( ... whatever measures required to build a strong and stable ... currently listed on the OTC Markets-pink current trading platform. ... CEO, "We are seeing an anomaly in market trading ... only by the Company, but shareholders and market players ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: