Article by Keara Galbraith
Edited by Sofia Albert
Recent research projects on pain relief have revealed some interesting findings. One of which being light pain relief. No, this doesn’t mean that the pain relief isn’t very strong. Rather that the form of pain relief is triggered by light; specifically infrared light. The scientists researching this form of pain relief engineered liposomes (cell-like pods of phospholipids) that are to be injected where they then release a local anesthetic (a pain reliever) when they are hit by near-infrared light.
To test this form of relief, the scientists at Harvard Medical School who were developing the liposomes injected rats with the liposomes and proceeded to poke the rats intermittently until they began to experience pain. This continued for two hours when the rats began to feel hints of the discomfort but the overall effect continued for a total of six hours.
So, the overall hope for this new form of pain relief is that doctors might be able to inject their patients with the liposomes that can be triggered on demand so whenever the patient is feeling overly uncomfortable, they can trigger the liposomes and get roughly six hours of relief. This would end up being more beneficial than some other pain medicines, especially some over the counter pain relievers.
“Gold nanorods on the surface of a liposome heat up when exposed to near-infrared light. The heat frees phosphocholine molecules in the particle’s membrane, releasing a burst of the pain blocking drug tetrodotoxin.” Excerpt from “On-demand pain relief, triggered by light” by Prachi Patel.
To read more, visit nanowerk.com or, in C&EN (Checmical & Engineering News (a science news based magazine)) check out “On-demand pain relief, triggered by light”.
Patel, Prachi. “On-demand pain relief, triggered by light.” C&EN 23 Jan. 2017: 7-8. Print.