Researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center, led by Dheeraj Gandhi, MD, are conducting an early-stage, pilot trial that aims to establish the safety of destroying a small target in the brain to treat chronic neuropathic pain using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro device.

“If we can interrupt or carefully destroy the nucleus in the brain responsible for processing and amplifying pain signals, then we can disrupt this network and stop the neuropathic pain,” says Gandhi, professor of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of neurointerventional radiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in a media release from Focused Ultrasound Foundation.

Neuropathic pain is a type of chronic pain caused by nerve damage or a malfunctioning nervous system. It can be a result of a number of things, including injury, infection, metabolic disease, or a traumatic event to the peripheral nerves or the brain. It can cause significant disability, depression, and sleep problems.

Currently, the clinical trial is limited to 10 patients with certain causes of neuropathic pain: radiculopathy (sciatica), spinal cord injury, and phantom limb pain. It is being funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.

“Pain is a global health problem for millions of patients, so this trial aligns with the Foundation’s mission to support research that will make a large impact,” says Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD, in the release.

“Treating neuropathic pain using focused ultrasound was pioneered by Dr Daniel Jeanmonod in Switzerland, and I am confident the University of Maryland team will build upon this work to relieve pain in many more patients.”

If this pilot trial is a success, Gandhi plans to hold a larger trial and expand to other types of neuropathic pain that are widespread, such as diabetic neuropathy pain, per the release.

[Source(s): Focused Ultrasound Foundation, Newswise]