Flexible Optical Fibers Alleviate Pain, Adapting to Body Movement and Stretching

October 22, 2023

MIT engineers have introduced a novel tool for pinpointing the origins of nerve pain: soft, implantable fibers that can transmit light to major nerves within the body. By genetically modifying these nerves to be light-responsive, these flexible optical fibers can emit light pulses, effectively suppressing pain. The purpose of these innovative fibers is to serve as an experimental instrument for scientists investigating the causes and potential treatments for peripheral nerve disorders in animal models. 

Peripheral nerve pain, resulting from damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, leads to sensations of tingling, numbness, and pain in affected limbs and affects over 20 million people in the United States. 

Unlike conventional, rigid devices used to study nerve disorders, these adaptable fibers allow unrestricted motion, providing more precise insights into conditions like spinal cord injuries involving pain.

SOURCE: https://news.mit.edu/2023/soft-optical-fibers-nerve-related-pain-1019