Baffling chronic pain linked to rewiring of brain
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for the Company’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for Fentanyl Transdermal System, 25 mcg/hour, 50 mcg/hour, 75 mcg/hour and 100 mcg/hour, the AB-rated generic equivalent of Ortho McNeil’s chronic pain treatment Duragesic. Shipment of this product has commenced.
Full Post: Teva granted FDA approval for Fentanyl transdermal system
Scientists peered at the brains of people with a baffling chronic pain condition and discovered something surprising.
Their brains looked like an inept cable guy had changed the hookups, rewiring the areas related to emotion, pain perception and the temperature of their skin.
The new finding by scientists at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, begins to explain a mysterious condition that the medical community had doubted was real.
The people whose brains were examined have a chronic pain condition called complex region pain syndrome (CRPS.) It’s a pernicious and nasty condition that usually begins with an injury causing significant damage to the hand or the foot. For the majority of people, the pain from the injury disappears once the limb is healed. But for 5 percent of the patients, the pain rages on long past the healing, sometimes for the rest of people’s lives. About 200,00 people in the U.S. have this condition.
In a hand injury, for example, the pain may radiate from the initial injury site and spread to the whole arm or even the entire body. People also experience changes in skin color to blue or red as well as skin temperature (hotter at first, then becoming colder as the condition turns chronic.) Their immune system also shifts into overdrive, indicated by a hike in blood immune markers.
The changes in the brain take place in the network of tiny, white “cables” that dispatch messages between the neurons. This is called the brain’s white matter. Several years ago, Northwestern researchers discovered chronic pain caused the regions in the brain that contain the neurons — called gray matter because of it looks gray — to atrophy.
This is the first study to link pain with changes in the brain’s white matter. It will be published November 26 in the journal Neuron .
“This is the first evidence of brain abnormality in these patients,” said A. Vania Apkarian, professor of physiology at the Feinberg School and principal investigator of the study. ” People didn’t believe these patients. This is the first proof that there is a biological underpinning for the condition. Scientists have been trying to understand this baffling condition for a long time.”
Apkarian said people with CRPS suffer intensely and have a high rate of suicide. “Physicians don’t know what to do,” he said. “We don’t have the tools to take care of them.”
The new findings provide anatomical targets for scientists, who can now look for potential pharmaceutical treatments to help these patients, Apkarian said. He doesn’t know yet if chronic pain causes these changes in the brain or if CRPS patients’ brains have pre-existing abnormalities that predispose them to this condition.
In the new study, the brains of 22 subjects with CRPS and 22 normal subjects were examined with an anatomical MRI and a diffusion tensor MRI, which enabled scientists to view the white matter. In addition to changes in white matter, the CRPS patients’ brains showed an atrophy of neurons or gray matter similar to what has been previously shown in other types of chronic pain patients.
Apkarian said the white matter changes in patients’ brains is related to the duration and intensity of their pain and their anxiety. It is likely that white matter reorganizes in other chronic pain conditions as well, but that has not yet been studied, he noted.
Maybe you have an 85-year-old grandfather who still whips through the newspaper crossword puzzle every morning or a 94-year-old aunt who never forgets a name or a face. They don’t seem to suffer the ravages of memory that beset most people as they age. Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine wondered if the
Full Post: Seniors with sharp brains reveal first secrets of sharp memory in old age
Contrary to a widely-held assumption about heterosexual transmission of HIV, the normal mucosal lining of the female genital tract is not a foolproof barrier to viral penetration, scientists at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago report at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) 48th Annual Meeting, Dec. 13-17, 2008 in San Francisco.
Full Post: Mucosal lining of the female genital tract no barrier to HIV sexual transmission
Scientists from the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease (GIND), UCSF, and Stanford have discovered that a certain type of collagen, collagen VI, protects brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins, which are widely thought to cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While the functions of collagens in cartilage and muscle are well established, before this study it was unknown
Full Post: Collagen VI protects brain cells against amyloid-beta proteins
Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a critical new way a man can transmit the HIV virus to a woman. Scientists had long believed that the normal lining of the female vaginal tract was an effective barrier to invasion of the HIV virus during sexual intercourse. They thought the large HIV virus couldn’t penetrate the
Full Post: Discovery of new way a man can transmit the HIV virus to a woman
Shredded extracellular matrix (ECM) is toxic to neurons. Chen et al. reveal a new mechanism for how ECM demolition causes brain damage. The study will appear in the December 29, 2008 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology (www.jcb.org). A stroke or head injury kills large numbers of neurons through a process called excitotoxicity. A
Full Post: Matrix fragments trigger fatal excitement