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NEWS AND MEDIA

Chronic pain might impact how the brain processes emotions

Source: UNSW Chemical ‘messengers’ called neurotransmitters help regulate our emotions – but scientists have noticed a disruption to their levels in people with chronic pain. More than three million Australians experience chronic pain: an ongoing and often debilitating condition that can last from months to years. This persistent pain can impact many parts of a person’s life, with almost half of people with chronic pain also experiencing major anxiety and depression disorders. Now, a new study led by UNSW Sydney and NeuRA shows that people with chronic pain have an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the part of the brain responsible…

Researchers aim to improve self-management of early-stage dementia through innovative online platform

In a world-first, researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) are trialling an online intervention for people with early-stage dementia with the aim of improving self-management techniques. A multi-site trial in collaboration with Norway and the UK, the SHAPE (Self-management and Health Promotion in early-stage dementia with E-learning for carers) trial aims to support people living with mild to moderate dementia manage their diagnosis, as well as educating their loved ones. Currently, more than 500,000 people in Australia have dementia with 250 new diagnoses each day. These diagnoses are expected to rise to over 300 per day within the next five…

Researchers show muscle relaxants are ineffective and may be unsafe for low back pain

Australian researchers have found muscle relaxants are largely ineffective and potentially unsafe when treating low back pain, despite being widely prescribed. Published today in the British Medical Journal, research by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and UNSW has shown muscle relaxants might reduce pain in the short term, but the effect is too small to be considered clinically meaningful, and there is an increased risk of side effects. The research also showed that the effects of long-term muscle relaxant use remain unknown. Low back pain is a major global public health problem and has been the leading cause of disability worldwide…

Researchers reduce severity of sleep apnoea by at least 30 per cent

In an Australian-first, researchers have successfully repurposed two existing medications to reduce the severity of sleep apnoea in people by at least 30 per cent. Affecting more than one million Australians1, sleep apnoea is a condition where the upper airway from the back of the nose to the throat closes repetitively during sleep, restricting oxygen intake and causing people to wake as often as 100 times or more per hour. Those with untreated sleep apnoea are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, dementia and depression, and are two to four times more likely to crash a car than the general…

Landmark trial aims to help people with spinal cord injury walk again

Australian researchers are embarking on a landmark international trial which aims to help people with spinal cord injury walk again. Led by researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and primarily funded by SpinalCure Australia and CatWalk Trust NZ, the eWALK trial aims to harness the power of neuroplasticity to restore the function of remaining spinal nerves. The therapy, neurostimulation, sends electrical impulses through electrodes that sit on the surface of the skin over the spinal cord.  When it is coupled with step and walking training in people with chronic paraplegia, the therapy helps to rewire the neural pathways that have…

World’s largest bipolar genomics study provides new insights into the biological causes of the disorder

In a global collaborative investigation, researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and over 200 other institutions around the world have identified 64 genomic regions that make people more susceptible to bipolar disorder. Published today in Nature Genetics, the study conducted by the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium revealed where in DNA the genetic variations that increase risk to bipolar disorder are located, and what specific genes and pathways they impact, opening up future opportunities to better identify people who are likely to develop the condition and develop better treatments. Bipolar disorder is a common mood disorder that affects around 350,000 Australians and an…