Medical

Tiny ultrasound-triggered sacs designed to relieve pain

Tiny ultrasound-triggered sacs...
An illustration showing the ultrasound device and the injected liposomes
An illustration showing the ultrasound device and the injected liposomes
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An illustration showing the ultrasound device and the injected liposomes
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An illustration showing the ultrasound device and the injected liposomes

Opioids may be an effective means of post-operative pain relief, but they're also potentially addictive. With this drawback in mind, scientists at Boston Children's Hospital have developed a new pain management system that incorporates ultrasound and liposomes (microscopic man-made sacs) full of a nerve-blocking agent.

The idea is that patients would receive a pain-killer when at the hospital for surgery, plus some of the liposomes would be injected into their body at the wound site. They would then be sent home with a portable ultrasound device.

Once the pain-killer wore off and the discomfort commenced, they would use the device to non-invasively send pulses of ultrasound through their body tissue to the liposomes. This would cause molecules known as sono-sensitizers – located in the walls of the liposomes – to break down, thus releasing the nerve-blocking agent right where it was needed. The process could be performed multiple times.

Developed by a team led by Dr. Daniel Kohane, the liposomes can be activated up to three days after injection. The degree of nerve block can then be controlled simply by adjusting the duration and intensity of the ultrasound.

"Opioid abuse is a growing problem in healthcare," says Kohane. "In the future, this system could potentially combat that by giving patients access to non-opioid, effective nerve-blocking drugs."

An article on the research was published this week in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Source: Boston Children's Hospital

4 comments
CzechsterMarek
Medical Professionals in Israel have giving cannabis to patients for over thirty years. Israel is the leading authority on how to grow cannabis and California is using their services. Now in the United States we have Congress who for obvious reasons curtailed the availability of cannabis for medical purposes. When will this Reefer Madness stop by the lawmakers who have a financial interest in protecting Big Pharma?
Bob Flint
Could one overdose by using all the stored liposomes on one or more blasts of ultrasound?
ljaques
Opioid abuse is NOT a growing problem. Media coverage of overreaction is. Dr. Kohane, please find something like this which works longer term and it will be a hit with those of us in pain most hours of our lives.
Missi
I am in agreement with ljaques. Since this rapid induction of which I have coined #WarOnOpiods has successfully occurred, I have yet to read or to find help in the matter of what help or treatment replacement is there for those of us who live 24/7 with persistent and chronic pain. I congratulate and I am pleased for this ultrasonic invention for the replacement use in short term pain. It doesn't help or address the root issue of persistent pain though. I wish so deeply to relate to anyone what it's like to live in this misery. My medications, yes opioids are the only thing that gives me windows of time each day to feel well enough to function (still with muted pain) as a human being. Thank you to our government and God knows who else had a vested interest in taking away the very medication that gave me relief in the name of saving junkies, addicts and careless people that didn't safeguard their medications. In the end of ends, these same people will find another drug of choice and all of this will have been for naught. They will continue to overdose and die. What IS going to happen is a dramatic increase of suicides in the chronic pain community. There's only so much pain a human can endure without quality of life. It took years of trial and errors to find what worked for me. I also tried everything from A to Z, invasive treatments, painful treatments not to have the need for medications. I have never gotten "high" from my meds. I signed legal, binding documents. I urinate in a cup. My medications are counted each doctor appointment. I have complied and been ultra responsible with my medications. I am frightened because I don't know how long I can live with the insurmountable pain of CRPS/RSD. I want to see my children get married. I want to be a grandmother. I am rapidly losing hope.