A Pain Study Device Being Developed by Stanford Researcher


Published Date : Oct 09, 2014

A new technique is being developed for deeper understanding of how pain gets transmitted in the human body. A team headed by an assistant professor at Stanford University is working towards creating a wireless device that makes use of optogenetics research to study pain. Ada Poon is the assistant professor at the department of electrical engineering in Stanford University. 

Her research work is supported by the Stanford Bio-X program which is based on the research that uses light to control the activities of the pain transmitting neurons. This technique makes use of light responsive nerves in mice that are genetically engineered. One color of light makes the nerve fire and activates the pain, whereas, the other color of light stops the nerve from firing thereby preventing the pain. 

Ada Poon is currently working towards further improving the current device that works with the help of a fiber-optic cable that limits the locomotion of the mice. The main problem, however, is the doubt that movement restriction makes this particular version of the device a little less practicable. She plans on creating a wireless model of this device that will promote free locomotion in mice.

According to Poon indirect method is the only way of studying pain. What she aims at developing will be a more natural technique of measuring pain relief.

She will also be working in close collaboration with the experts of anesthesia and bioengineering. It is expected that this research project will put forth an efficient and effective way of understanding and developing techniques for combating chronic pain. 

This research project is a part of the twenty two projects that are receiving funds from the Stanford Bio-X grants. These projects aim at bringing together various interdisciplinary groups to solve a certain biomedical issue