Enzyme Shot May Top Acupuncture: Mouse Study Finds Injection Provides Days of Pain Relief

By Saey, Tina Hesman | Science News, June 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

Enzyme Shot May Top Acupuncture: Mouse Study Finds Injection Provides Days of Pain Relief


Saey, Tina Hesman, Science News


A new treatment mimics the pain-blocking mechanism of acupuncture and offers longer-lasting relief, at least in mice.

Injecting an enzyme called PAP into an acupuncture point behind the knees of mice relieved pain caused by inflammation for up to six days, Julie Hurt and Mark Zylka of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill report online April 23 in Molecular Pain. That's almost 100 times as long as pain relief from acupuncture, which typically lasts about 1 1/2 hours.

"The beauty of Mark's study is that it takes advantage of the molecular mechanism of acupuncture and improves upon it," says Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester in NewYork. She and colleagues have demonstrated that inserting and manipulating acupuncture needles causes the body to release a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine acts as a local anesthetic to slow pain messages to the brain, she says.

Zylka had already been studying PAP, which stands for prostatic acid phosphatase, when Nedergaard's research on the release of adenosine during acupuncture was published. The study gave him the idea that boosting adenosine at acupuncture points, which are located where nerves contact muscle, could be a localized way to treat pain. …

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