Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomescienceResearchers discover first biomarker of chronic pain

Researchers discover first biomarker of chronic pain

Chronic pain can arise for a number of reasons. Serious injury with permanent consequences, amputation or the so-called neuralgia. Medicine still does not provide an optimal treatment for such cases. Because it is not yet known how and where this pain arises.

Now a research group from the University of California San Francisco, led by Prasad Shervalkar, has gained new insights. Ha results They are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Studies on brain pain

In order to understand pain, doctors had to rely entirely on what patients had to say. The researchers wrote: “Chronic pain syndromes are often resistant to treatment and cause significant distress and disability. Pain intensity is often measured through self-reports, while objective biomarkers that can guide diagnosis and treatment are lacking.”

An important aspect of the origin of pain is where it originated. Here, too, the research is still in its infancy, as Shervalkar describes: “It remains unclear which brain activity underlies chronic pain on clinically relevant time scales or how this relates to acute pain.”

In order to find out how a patient’s chronic pain develops, the scientists examined the affected subjects using imaging methods. For this purpose, several electrodes were implanted under the cowl. The goal was to “find out which regions play a role in chronic pain processing. Above all, we were interested in whether there are brain signals associated with pain intensity.”

The orbitofrontal cortex is a source of chronic pain

For the study, two patients with different diagnoses were monitored and examined regularly over a six-month period. Preliminary investigations immediately showed that both hemispheres of the brain are involved in the development of chronic pain.

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Particularly severe pain was described when the area around the orbitofrontal cortex was active. In order to see if this was also related to acute pain, the researchers conducted more tests. They found that the anterior cingulate cortex is activated when there is an acute pain stimulus. The orbitofrontal cortex was only slightly active in this type of pain.

The researchers see previous studies confirmed by their tests. “This observation fits with previous imaging studies in which experimental pain stimuli activated the ACC as a major ganglion.”

Valuable results for further research

The research group hypothesizes that their study will fundamentally change pain research. By identifying the cause, doctors and scientists can now work on more diagnostic and treatment options. They hypothesize, for example, that brain stimulation could be used as a treatment for chronic pain in the future.

picture Josh Clifford on pixabay

Zoe Barker
Zoe Barker
"Writer. Analyst. Avid travel maven. Devoted twitter guru. Unapologetic pop culture expert. General zombie enthusiast."

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