Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Understanding The Mystery Of Anesthesia

Date:
July 3, 1998
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Summary:
What is the precise physical and mental state produced by anesthetic drugs? Despite a century and a half of reliance on these drugs to advance life-saving surgical techniques, physicians and scientists still don't know the answer to that question.

What is the precise physical and mental state produced by anesthetic drugs? Despite a century and a half of reliance on these drugs to advance life-saving surgical techniques, physicians and scientists still don't know the answer to that question. "All we know for sure when we give patients anesthetic drugs is that they don't respond to pain and they don't remember the experience," says Roderic G. Eckenhoff, MD, an associate professor of anesthesiology and physiology. "We don't know how the drugs work or even where in the central nervous system they act to produce their effects on consciousness." Eckenhoff is leading a multidisciplinary research effort to identify the molecular mechanism -- or mechanisms -- of action for the small, two- or three-carbon molecules that produce anesthesia.

For years, researchers in this area have searched in vain for a single molecular interaction, whether with a receptor protein or cell-membrane lipid, to explain the drugs' effects. Eckenhoff suggests that, while it would be simpler for investigators if this were the case, it is more likely that the drugs act at multiple sites in a complex, coordinated manner. "We're beginning to understand how these small molecules interact with and bind to proteins, and how that binding changes protein structure and dynamics. It would be premature for us to link these changes with anesthesia, but our early evidence is pointing toward a generalized mechanism of action for inhaled anesthetics."

While the ultimate goal of the experimental studies is to improve safety and extend the control physicians have over the anesthetic state, Eckenhoff also hopes the project will build a base of new knowledge that will lead indirectly to other advances. "There will be spinoffs from this work in other fields, some as yet unanticipated, others at least speculatively in view. For example, there's a small literature building now on the use of these kinds of drugs for tissue and organ preservation, and thus our research could contribute to transplantation medicine."Also, anesthesia is not like ordinary sleep or other types of unconsciousness, Eckenhoff notes, raising questions about the nature of consciousness itself that might be illuminated by the studies. "Once we better understand how unconsciousness works, chances are we'll have new insight into how consciousness works."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Understanding The Mystery Of Anesthesia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980703092637.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. (1998, July 3). Understanding The Mystery Of Anesthesia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980703092637.htm
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Understanding The Mystery Of Anesthesia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/07/980703092637.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins