Chronic Pain May Change Immune System
A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that chronic pain may change our immune system by reprogramming how the genes work.
Pain is considered chronic when it lasts for six months or more. It’s one of the most common causes of disability globally, and the physical and emotional effects can seriously impact the individual’s quality of life. There are no effective treatments, nor is there any way to know who will develop it following an injury. Being able to predict this would enable prevention strategies to be developed.
A team of researchers from McGill University in Montreal studied DNA from the brains and white blood cells of rats to investigate the possibility of a link between chronic pain and DNA, or epigenetic mechanisms in the brain.
They used a method that mapped DNA marking by a chemical called a methyl group. Chemical marking is an important concept in epigenetics, a growing field of study into how the expression of gene activity is regulated while the genetic structure remains the same.
The scientists found a large number – somewhere between hundreds and thousands – of genes that were marked by chronic pain. They also discovered that chronic pain changes the marking of DNA in both the brain and in the T cells, a type of white blood cell with an important role in the immune system.
The study authors concluded: “We can now consider the implications that chronic pain might have on other systems in the body that we don’t normally associate with pain. The findings highlight the devastating impact of chronic pain on other important parts of the body such as the immune system.”
The hope is that these results could lead to new ways of diagnosing and treating chronic pain in humans. Some of the genes that are marked by chronic pain could become targets for pain medications.
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Chronic pain may be linked to genetic changes in the immune system
Published On: Feb 1, 2016
Tendon Pain Linked to Diabetes
Researchers at the University of Canberra in Australia have found that people with type 2 diabetes are more than three times as likely as those without the disease to have tendon pain, known as tendinopathy. And people with diagnosed tendinopathy have 30 percent higher odds of having diabetes.
Exercise is an important part of managing type 2 diabetes, but tendon pain can make that physical activity difficult to impossible.
“People with diabetes are more likely to develop tendinopathy, but the opposite is also true – people with tendinopathy are more likely to have undiagnozed diabetes,” senior author Jamie Gaida told Reuters Health. “Tendinopathy is a problem for two key reasons,” he said. “First, feeling pain during movements that load the tendon is unpleasant, and second, having a painful tendon stops you being physically active.”
Tendinopathy refers to injuries and inflammation of the tendons, the soft tissues that connect muscles to bones, usually due to overuse or repetitive movements. To examine its relationship with type 2 diabetes, Gaida and colleagues reviewed 31 previous studies. Twenty-six of them focused on people with type 2 diabetes while five focused on people with diagnosed tendinopathy.
When they combined and reanalyzed the data in all the studies, the team found that people with type 2 diabetes were 3.67 times more likely to develop tendinopathy compared to control participants without diabetes. People with tendinopathy were 1.3 times more likely than controls to have diabetes.
The study team also found that people with diabetes were more likely to have thickened tendons, which is often seen in tendinopathy. And people with both tendinopathy and diabetes typically had been diagnosed diabetic for longer than those with diabetes but no tendon problems. “The risk of tendinopathy increases with the number of years that you’ve had diabetes,” Gaida said.
Sourced from: Reuters Health, Tendon pain linked to type 2 diabetes
Published On: Feb 1, 2016
Mini-Microscope Could Identify Cancer Cells in Real Time
Some of the most stressful times in a person’s life begin with the doctor’s words, “We’re waiting for the results to come back from the lab.” But that wait may soon become a thing of the past.
That’s because researchers at the University of Washington are developing what could be a groundbreaking invention that has the potential to rid us of this torturous waiting game. The device, not much bigger than a pen, will allow surgeons to observe their patient on a cellular level – there and then.
The mini-microscope is being developed in collaboration with Stanford University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Barrow Neurological Institute. The ongoing work was recently published in Biomedical Optics Express.
Lead author Jonathan Liu explains the obvious benefits to the surgeon: “Being able to zoom and see at the cellular level during the surgery would really help them to accurately differentiate between tumor and normal tissues and improve patient outcomes.”
Dental patients stand to benefit as well. Dentists routinely come across a suspicious or unexpected lesion in a patient’s mouth. In these situations, it’s important to err on the side of caution, excise the tissue and send it for analysis. These patients are subjected to procedures that, more often than not, turn out to be unnecessary; this also puts additional pressure on pathology labs.
A miniature microscope could remove the need for many superfluous procedures – in dermatological clinics, for instance, it could be used to quickly define which moles require further investigation.
The microscope will be trialed first as a cancer-screening tool; the team hopes that within 2 to 4 years it will be released to other clinical settings.
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Miniature microscope will ID cancer cells in real time
Published On: Feb 1, 2016