Bioengineers Use Magnetic Forces to Manage Chronic Pain

Bioengineers Use Magnetic Forces to Manage Chronic Pain

By Staff.

Bioengineers from UCLA have demonstrated in a newly published study that a gel-like material containing magnetic particles that push and pull on cells can be used to treat chronic pain.

“Much of mainstream modern medicine centers on using pharmaceuticals to make chemical or molecular changes inside the body to treat disease,” said Dino Di Carlo, UCLA professor of bioengineering and the principal investigator of the study. “However, recent breakthroughs in the control of forces at small scales have opened up a new treatment idea — using physical force to kick-start helpful changes inside cells. There’s a long way to go, but this early work shows this path toward so-called ‘mechanoceuticals’ is a promising one.”

The bioengineers and researchers used small magnetic particles inside a gel to control cell proteins on a cell’s membrane that respond to mechanical stimulation, and control the flow of certain ions. These proteins play a role in the sensations of touch and pain.

“Our results show that through exploiting ‘neural network homeostasis,’ which is the idea of returning a biological system to a stable state, it is possible to lessen the signals of pain through the nervous system,” said Andy Kah Ping Tay, a recent UCLA doctoral graduate who was the lead author of the study. “Ultimately, this could lead to new ways to provide therapeutic pain relief.”

To make the magnetized gel, they started with a polymer, hyaluronic acid, and a gel-like material found naturally in the spinal cord and the brain, which helps provide structural support to cells in those parts of the body.

The researchers put tiny magnetic particles into the biocompatible gel. Next, they grew a type of primary neural cell — dorsal root ganglion neurons — in the gel.

In laboratory tests, they applied a magnetic field to generate a “pulling” force on the particles, which was transmitted through the gel to the embedded cells.

They found that the magnetically induced mechanical forces led to an increase in calcium ions in the neurons. This influx of ions indicates that the neurons responded to the forces. By increasing the force steadily over time, the researchers found that the neurons adapted to the continuous stimulation by reducing the signals for pain.

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Authored by: Staff

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John Gray

My pain doctor apologizes repeatedly for having to reduce my opioids. He knows what I live with, not the government. Then, they took away clonazepam that was prescribed for sleep and to stop the horrible PTSD related nightmares. Every other drug has had really bad side effects. Any new therapy is worth investigating but my guess is THC bearing compounds will be my best bet. Of course, there isnt much money in that for big PHARMA.

Lynn Marie

Where can I get this gel?


Will this prevent tumors (Schwannomas) from growing on nerve roots in the spine, because these tumors cause intense pain?

William Dorn

While millions suffer and die. Until something better finally is found leave opioid medicines alone. We are tired of suffering and watching are brothers and sisters lose their lives just so those in government can look like they are doing something. Until they are willing to admit that illegal drugs are the problem nothing will change.

Mavis Johnson

The Internet and weaponized targeted marketing is hyping these misleading breakthrough stories. There is no way to gauge if this will be effective. It will be hyped and marketed anyway, because they will claim that opiates kill people. There is no agency counting how many people have been duped by these false health claims. This will be profitable whether it works or not.

this was just done on cells in culture. it’s interesting in a lab research kind of way, but as someone who did medical research for nearly 15 years, I can safely say it’s many, many years before anything of use in a clinical setting will result (if ever). Cells in culture react to stimuli, but not necessarily like they do when they’re actually in a body as part of a complex system. It is good that they’re looking at all sorts of ways of dealing with the pain process


Thanks to the opioid hysteria denying even basic pain control to those in chronic pain, most of those reading this now will have died an agonizing, torturous death long before this treatment is made available to them.