Using computer models and laboratory rats, Johns Hopkins researchers have demonstrated that “direct electrical current” can be delivered to nerves preferentially, blocking pain signals while leaving other sensations undisturbed. The researchers say the experiments advance the search for improved implantable devices able to treat chronic pain that is due to peripheral nerve injury or disease. “We have developed a potential new concept for neural implants that works differently than conventional electrical stimulators,” says Gene Fridman, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery and biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We believe we are the first to investigate the idea of using this concept for implantable medical devices that use direct electrical current, long thought to be unsafe.” Implantable spinal cord stimulators and peripheral nerve stimulators designed to interrupt nerve pain impulses were developed more than 30 years ago, but the devices work by interacting with sensory nerve cells, leading to numbness, tingling and other side effects. In a report on the new findings, published online April 11 in Science Advances, the researchers say direct electrical current devices would allow for more precise, preferential targeting of the appropriate pain-transmitting nerve cells, making them more effective… Read full this story
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