In a study using rodents, Duke Health researchers found that a spinal injection of the conditioned serum eased limb pain for far longer than typical analgesics. They also showed that this long-lasting pain relief results from a process outside the anti-inflammatory effects previously ascribed to autologous conditioned serum (ACS) — an insight that could enhance and expand the therapy’s use.

ACS is produced from a person’s own blood, which is then processed in a centrifuge to remove the blood cells and concentrate the anti-inflammatory proteins. While not FDA approved, the therapy is offered at Duke as well as a handful of other centers in the United States, and for years has been extoled by athletes who undergo injections for cartilage injuries.

The Duke team used human, rat and mouse ACS fluid to test its effectiveness as a therapy for neuropathy. The serums were injected in both mice and rats after the animals had undergone a regimen of the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, which is used to treat breast, ovarian and lung cancers. The most common side effect of paclitaxel is numbness and tingling in the hands and feet.

Not only did the therapy alleviate the animals’ nerve pain, but its effect lasted several weeks – well beyond the hours or days provided by normal pain medicines.

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