Mesothelioma pain is one of the unfortunate consequences of living with this dread cancer. You don’t need to be told how bad it can get.
To quell mesothelioma pain, your doctor can prescribe drugs or offer to enroll you in an alternative-medicine program.
The mesothelioma pain relief you experience from the available options can be adequate. But there’s no guarantee the relief will last. Or that you won’t experience unpleasant side effects.
However, science now appears poised to be able to deliver superior mesothelioma pain relief, minus most or all of the risk of side effects.
According to the journal Science Advances, researchers implanted a bioelectronic device in lab rats to permit delivery of a small amount of pain-killing molecules to four specific sites along their spinal cord.
The results were that the rats stopped feeling the pain surgically induced in their hind legs.
Use Against Mesothelioma Pain Still in the Future
The researchers — from Linköping University in Sweden — indicated that it hasn’t been previously possible to kill pain by targeting such highly specific locations in a body.
The bioelectronic device that permits this is an organic electronic ion pump. It operates on the principle of electrophoresis, in which molecules are carried along through a fluid or gel with the help of an electric field.
The researchers noted that electrophoresis is widely used in gene labs to separate DNA strands for purposes of studying them.
But with this application devised by the Swiss researchers there’s a twist. They’ve incorporated a conducting polymer into their electrophoresis process.
The polymer is gamma-aminobutyric acid — or, GABA. It happens that GABA can inhibit pain signal transmission in the central nervous system of mammals.
The researchers said their process involves passing GABA through an electric field. This causes the polymer’s molecules to become positively charged.
Because they are positively charged, the GABA molecules are able to pass through a negatively charged selective gel that lines a channel with four outlets. The gel has an affinity for a specific set of neural junctions on the spinal cord.
The positively charged GABA molecules pass through the negatively charged gel and then infiltrate the neural junctions.
Once that happens, the GABA begins blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Tested on Lab Rats with Induced Pain
The researchers tried out their device on lab rats whose sciatic nerves had been cut. The cutting caused pain signals to travel from the rats’ hind paws to the spinal cord and from there to the brain.
The device was positioned to deliver GABA molecules to the locations on the spinal cord where those pain signals converged.
To the delight of the researchers, the pain signals were indeed stopped at that juncture and never made it up to the brain.
They indicated that their accomplishment differs markedly from the usual methodologies of pain management, which generally involve giving pain-killer drugs either orally or by injection.
Drugs given orally or by injection disperse everywhere inside the body. As a consequence, they lose potency when they reach the site where they’re needed.
Also, they block regulatory signals the body sends out to keep the brain alert. By blocking those needed signals, you feel tired or foggy headed.
“The idea with our device is to just turn off the one malfunctioning signal” and no others, the researchers explained.