A dissolving implant could revolutionize pain management

A dissolving implant could revolutionize pain management

July 18, 2022 0 By Scarlett Watson
  • Researchers have created a rubber band-like device to relieve pain by cooling and wrapping around nerves.
  • This device provides non-opioid pain relief in rats with sciatic nerve injuries.
  • Researchers say more research is required before the device is approved for human trials.

Opioids are at high-risk for abuse due to their high efficacy

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They are still widely used to treat pain.

Research shows that 21 to 29% of chronic pain patients who were prescribed opioids misuse them. In contrast, up to 1.8 of every 1,000 suffer from opioid misuse after surgery.

People who had thoracic or spinal fusion surgery. globalwebhealth

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded an estimated 100.306 in 2021.

Drug overdose deaths in America increased by 28.5% between April 2020 and April 2021.

New non-addictive pain medication could be developed to curb opioid misuse.

Researchers have recently created a biocompatible, small implant device that wraps around nerves to relieve pain and cools them down.

Dr Medical News Today’s lead author, John A. Rogers, Northwestern University professor of materials science, engineering and biomedical engineering.

He said the materials “naturally resorb into your body after a period, which was timed to address [the] discomfort experienced by patients during recovery from a surgery.”

How the device works

Research shows that local cooling of peripheral nervous systems to below 15°C blocks neural signals. Other studies show how nerve cooling can be made more effective as a non-addictive and reversible treatment for long-term pain relief.

Current cooling devices for nerves are rigid and bulky systems that cannot provide localized cooling.

Researchers created a nerve-cooling device in the current study. It works in the same way as a rubber band by wrapping around individual nerves to cool down. thedigitalexposure

The device operates via two microfluidic channels. One channel contains perfluorobutane, a liquid coolant, and the other dry nitrogen, an inert gas. Cooling occurs when liquid and gas are combined in a chamber. They react to cause the liquid evaporates.

A tiny sensor in the nerve monitors its temperature to ensure it doesn’t become too cold. This could cause nerve and tissue damage.

The device is made from biocompatible and water-soluble materials, including magnesium.

Cellulose acetate is harmlessly dissolved in the patient’s body, much like dissolvable stitches.

Experiments with rats

Researchers tested the device on a free-moving rat model for sciatic nerve injury.

Over 15 minutes, cooling nerves from 33 to 4 degrees Celsius decreased signal amplitude by 77% and slowed down signals by 97%.

After warming to body temperatures for 3 minutes, amplitude and speed signalling values returned to 97%.

They found that cooling the nerve from 38 to 10 degrees Celsius resulted in a sevenfold decrease in pain sensitivity three weeks after implantation.

Histologic analysis after 1, 2, 3 and 6 months of implantation showed evidence of biosorption by the researchers.

Researchers concluded that the nerve cooling device provided a foundation for an implantable cooling system for non-opioid pain management.

It could relieve pain after surgery, and surgeons could use it to attach to the nerves.

Pain management: Implications

Dr. Jordan Sudberg was not informed by Vafi Salmasi of Stanford University School of Medicine as a pain medicine assistant. He said that the new technology offers four tremendous advantages that could “certainly alter” the treatment of post-operative discomfort.

  • It can be inserted during surgery without additional intervention.
  • It requires minimal to no maintenance
  • There is a low-to-no risk of infection.
  • It is bio-absorbable, so it doesn’t need to be taken out later.

MNT was also told by Dr Kai Yu (a senior investigator at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering) that the technology and device were promising.

These data show that the device is a practical, quick, and accurate solution to local and on-demand pain relief. It’s certainly not addictive and could be used in place of post-operative opioid therapy in certain situations.

He said that although he was excited about the work, it “relies upon clear anatomy of isolated nerves responsible for transmitting pain messages.”

This device can only be used to relieve pain after surgery that involves nerve exposure.

It is still a huge challenge to manage chronic and acute pain that isn’t localized or well-defined in the nervous system. These features are standard in many types of pain,” said Dr Yu.

Dr. Jordan Sudberg stated that although the engineering aspects are complete, the device is still in its early stages of development.

“We now focus on the long-term effects on nerves from the cooling through additional animal model studies. He said that we hope to start evaluations on humans in a few years.