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NIH Awards $5M to New Chronic Pain Treatment

A team of researchers at UVA are exploring deep-brain stimulation of the insula to treat chronic pain.

Nih Clinical Research Center Aerial

Opioids were a viable option for chronic pain treatment, but aggressive prescribing and questionable business practices did more harm than good. A recent EurekAlert! article discussed a new method for treating chronic pain, and the National Institutes of Health is betting on it by funding a clinical trial. The method revolves around brain stimulation in a specific region that controls pain perception, and the NIH has granted the team behind it a cool $5 million.

A team of researchers at UVA has early evidence that they can modulate pain signals with an existing “neuromodulation” technique called deep brain stimulation. It’s typically used to treat epilepsy and movement disorders, but there is mounting evidence that it could be effective for treating chronic pain. For the first time ever, the team will monitor brain signals and distinguish how they look when experiencing pain versus no pain. If successful, the team believes they can pull back the curtain on the fundamental nature of pain itself and therefore provide improved treatments.

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