IMPLANT BANISHES PAIN – WITHOUT DRUGS!
ANEWLY developed drugfree implant, which provides pain relief on demand, could put a dent in the opioid crisis gripping America — and offer relief for millions living in agony! The breakthrough device, which dissolves on its own like absorbable stitches, was created by a Northwestern University–led research team. “Although opioids are extremely effective, they are also extremely addictive,” says Northwestern professor John Rogers, a bioelectronics pioneer. Almost 70,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2020 alone, according to the CDC. “We are motivated by treating pain without drugs — in ways that can be turned on and off instantly, with user control over the intensity of relief,” says Rogers.
“The technology exploits mechanisms similar to those that cause fingers to feel numb when cold.”
As thin as a piece of paper, the flexible device — which is less than a quarter of an inch long — wraps around specific nerves to deliver precise
numbing sensations and blocks pain signals to the brain. An external pump allows the user to remotely activate the device and alter its intensity.
The implant contains multiple tiny channels. One has liquid perfluoropentane — clinically approved as an ultrasound contrast agent and for pressurized inhalers. A second has dry nitrogen, an inert gas.
When the liquid and gas flow into a shared chamber, the liquid evaporates and cools the nerve — similar to how evaporating sweat cools the body.
“We want to block the pain signals — not the nerves that control motor function,” says study co-author Dr. Matthew MacEwan, of St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine.
“As you cool down a nerve, the signals that travel through become slower and slower, eventually stopping completely. “By delivering a cooling effect to just one or two targeted nerves, we can modulate
region of the body.” Researchers believe the experimental device would be most valuable for patients who undergo routine operations commonly requiring postoperative medications, with surgeons placing the implant during procedures.