People suffering from chronic pain often have to deal with depression and lack of motivation. It can be difficult to explain to friends and family who say “Just get out and DO something… it will make you feel better!” But now, there’s some science behind the lack of motivation felt by chronic pain sufferers.
Chronic pain, as debilitating as it may be, actually has a purpose. It serves to limit your behavior in such a way as to promote healing and prevent further injuries. And in the process of preventing you from further damage, chronic pain may actually rewire your brain in a way that decreases your motivation.
Researchers found that mice with chronic pain showed decreased motivation, even when they were given painkillers. They looked at a specific area in the brain associated with pain and motivation and found that nerve cells weren’t firing properly. They found that a specific chemical, called galanin, was the key. When galanin receptors were inactivated in this area, neurons began firing properly, and injured mice showed similar motivation to control mice.
Could treatments targeting galanin receptors change brain currents in such a way as to alleviate the lack of motivation that many HUMAN chronic pain sufferers feel? The emotional effects of chronic pain are often just as draining as the physical effects, and this research could bring hope to chronic pain sufferers. Read more about it here:
Botox- for cancer patients? What?? Yes, you read that right. Botox is commonly known for use in plastic surgery applications. But it may soon have clinical applications for patients suffering from chronic pain!
Botox’s main component is a bacterial poison called botulinum. It works by blocking signaling between muscles and nerve cells, which is useful for cosmetic injections because it stops muscles from moving and wrinkles from developing. Botox can also have pain-relieving qualities, but there is some concern that if Botox is used for pain relief, patients might suffer from paralysis in the area in question.
But now, researchers have combined the pain-relieving elements of Botox with elements of the tetanus bug in such a way that it can stop pain signals sent between the spinal cord and the brain- basically taking the best parts of the two molecules and using them for good. This makes this new drug a potentially useful pain medication for cancer patients as well as others suffering from chronic pain.
As animal trials have been successful, it looks like this new drug could be available in as soon as 3 years! Check out the link below to learn more.
A dog is an important part of your family, and no one wants their dog to suffer! Near the end of my childhood companion’s life, watching her deteriorate was heartbreaking. So any advances in veterinary medicine that can allow our pets to be comfortable and relieve pain is good news! New research using a neurotoxin injection has proven successful in easing severe, chronic pain caused by late-stage bone cancer in dogs. Chronic pain is an issue that can severely affect quality of life.
This is a great example of animal research at its best. Not only was this therapy successful in dogs, but because the evolution of canine bone cancer pain is very similar to that in humans, information about what works and what doesn’t is extremely helpful in the development of new human drugs. Chronic pain in human cancer patients is a serious issue, as well, and it’s possible that humans will also be able to benefit from the same type of treatments that have helped dogs. Kind of gives a new meaning to “man’s best friend” when the research in dogs may one day help YOU!
From copperhead venom to centipede venom, the applications of poisonous animals in research continues to amaze me. I find it fascinating that we can learn so much from these bizarre and unconventional animals!
It turns out that a component of centipede venom- the same component that centipedes use to paralyze their prey via the blocking of sodium channels- could have real applications as a pain medication that is more efficient than morphine. In mouse studies, it proved to be a more potent pain reliever than morphine, and had no adverse effects on heart rate, blood pressure, or motor function.
While further studies are needed to validate the safety of such a drug for humans, this could have real applications for those who suffer from chronic pain. Maybe these guys aren’t so creepy after all!