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Pain Roundup

May 1, 2009

A new anesthetic could one day replace narcotics to treat pain after surgery.


Relieving pain without narcotics. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital have taken a potent slow-release anesthetic called saxitoxin and packed it into fat cells called liposomes. The result is a long-acting local anesthetic that could replace narcotics for the treatment of pain after surgery. While the research is still in the early stages, the team plans to create a one-shot treatment that will relieve pain for days or even weeks.

In other pain-related news, Japanese scientists have found that a compound produced by the immune system could be responsible for neuropathic pain—a condition in which the slightest touch can be excrutiating. In lab animals, blocking the compound, known as interferon gamma, eased the neuropathic pain without numbing the entire body. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.