Placebo Pain Control

New research has come to light to show the “placebo effect” involves evolutionarily old pain control pathways in the human brainstem. Placebo analgesia refers to a person’s relief from pain following being given a chemically inert substance. It is thought to be due to a person’s belief that a potent pain medication was administered. Endogenous opioids are naturally produced by the brain in small amounts and play a key role in the relief of pain and anxiety. Brain imaging studies have shown placebo analgesia stimulates release of endogenous opioids from higher brain regions. “It has been hypothesized that placebo analgesia also recruits the opioidergic descending pain control system, which inhibits pain processing in the spinal cord and, therefore, subsequently reduces pain-related responses in the brain, leading to a decreased pain experience,” says Falk Eippert. Eippert and his colleagues used advanced … Read more

Micro RNA and it’s role in Oral Cancer Detection

New research has emerged in Clinical Cancer Research which could aid in the diagnosis of oral cancer by looking at saliva, specifically MicroRNAs. MicroRNAs are molecules produced in cells that have the ability to simultaneously control activity and assess the behavior of multiple genes. Knowing the that microRNA is present in saliva represents a major step for the detection of oral cancer at an early stage. “It is a Holy Grail of cancer detection to be able to measure the presence of a cancer without a biopsy, so it is very appealing to think that we could detect a cancer-specific marker in a patient’s saliva,” said Jennifer Grandis, M.D. David T. Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc. and his colleagues measured microRNA levels in the saliva of 50 patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma and also in 50 healthy control patients. They were … Read more

Lasers to Detect Tooth Enamel

A group of researchers in Australia and Taiwan led by Wang, Fleming, and their colleagues showed that they could analyze the health of  extracted human teeth using lasers. This is done by measuring how the surface of a tooth responds to laser-generated ultrasound. This allows them to then valuate the mineral content of tooth enamel. Enamel is the hardest and most mineralized substance of the human body which engulfs teeth in a protective layer. Enamel constantly undergoes a cycle of mineral loss and restoration, in which healthy teeth maintain a high mineral content. If the balance between mineral loss and gain is lost, teeth can develop areas of softened enamel which are precursors to cavities and damaged teeth. This research could lead to the ability to assess oral health and predict emerging dental problems, such as tooth decay and cavities … Read more