full transcript

From the Ted Talk by George Zaidan: How do pain relievers work?

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Say you're at the beach, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy human, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might sound cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's ealry wnirnag system. It procetts you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we iatsnll pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nerve clles called nociceptors that stretch from your snpail cord to your skin, your muscles, your joints, your teteh and some of your internal organs. Just like all nreve cells, they conduct etccraleil sgialns, sending ioaoifmrntn from wherever they're located back to your bairn. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is cuinsag damage. So, gently touch the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your rueglar nerve cells. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the needle, the celosr you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that threshold and the nociceptors fire, tlleing your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain tloeshrhd isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are damaged, they and other nearby cells satrt producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just tocuh can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter painkillers come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these tuning chemicals, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are deamgad, they release a chemical called ahrdaoicnic acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then cntveeord into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body temperature, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the place in the enzyme where the reaction happens. The avtcie sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to spare. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work dentffleiry. Aspirin acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then breaks off, leaving half of itself in there, tatolly blocking that caenhnl and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently dtvecaaiets COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, enters the active site, but doesn't break apart or change the emynze. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind arachidonic acid, and can't do its normal chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the drugs are in your boaoltesdrm, they are carried throughout your body, and they go to painful aears just the same as normal ones. So that's how apsirin and ibuprofen work. But there are other dmosnieins to pain. npetauohric pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside sluumtis. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we respond to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can depend on whether you're paying attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

Open Cloze

Say you're at the beach, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy human, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might sound cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's _____ _______ system. It ________ you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we _______ pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nerve _____ called nociceptors that stretch from your ______ cord to your skin, your muscles, your joints, your _____ and some of your internal organs. Just like all _____ cells, they conduct __________ _______, sending ___________ from wherever they're located back to your _____. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is _______ damage. So, gently touch the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your _______ nerve cells. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the needle, the ______ you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that threshold and the nociceptors fire, _______ your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain _________ isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are damaged, they and other nearby cells _____ producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just _____ can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter painkillers come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these tuning chemicals, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are _______, they release a chemical called ___________ acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then _________ into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body temperature, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the place in the enzyme where the reaction happens. The ______ sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to spare. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work ___________. Aspirin acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then breaks off, leaving half of itself in there, _______ blocking that _______ and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently ___________ COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, enters the active site, but doesn't break apart or change the ______. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind arachidonic acid, and can't do its normal chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the drugs are in your ___________, they are carried throughout your body, and they go to painful _____ just the same as normal ones. So that's how _______ and ibuprofen work. But there are other __________ to pain. ___________ pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside ________. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we respond to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can depend on whether you're paying attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

Solution

  1. start
  2. electrical
  3. damaged
  4. regular
  5. totally
  6. active
  7. neuropathic
  8. warning
  9. causing
  10. threshold
  11. channel
  12. bloodstream
  13. differently
  14. install
  15. deactivates
  16. stimulus
  17. signals
  18. information
  19. teeth
  20. touch
  21. closer
  22. brain
  23. cells
  24. telling
  25. dimensions
  26. aspirin
  27. nerve
  28. areas
  29. arachidonic
  30. enzyme
  31. spinal
  32. protects
  33. early
  34. converted

Original Text

Say you're at the beach, and you get sand in your eyes. How do you know the sand is there? You obviously can't see it, but if you are a normal, healthy human, you can feel it, that sensation of extreme discomfort, also known as pain. Now, pain makes you do something, in this case, rinse your eyes until the sand is gone. And how do you know the sand is gone? Exactly. Because there's no more pain. There are people who don't feel pain. Now, that might sound cool, but it's not. If you can't feel pain, you could get hurt, or even hurt yourself and never know it. Pain is your body's early warning system. It protects you from the world around you, and from yourself. As we grow, we install pain detectors in most areas of our body. These detectors are specialized nerve cells called nociceptors that stretch from your spinal cord to your skin, your muscles, your joints, your teeth and some of your internal organs. Just like all nerve cells, they conduct electrical signals, sending information from wherever they're located back to your brain. But, unlike other nerve cells, nociceptors only fire if something happens that could cause or is causing damage. So, gently touch the tip of a needle. You'll feel the metal, and those are your regular nerve cells. But you won't feel any pain. Now, the harder you push against the needle, the closer you get to the nociceptor threshold. Push hard enough, and you'll cross that threshold and the nociceptors fire, telling your body to stop doing whatever you're doing. But the pain threshold isn't set in stone. Certain chemicals can tune nociceptors, lowering their threshold for pain. When cells are damaged, they and other nearby cells start producing these tuning chemicals like crazy, lowering the nociceptors' threshold to the point where just touch can cause pain. And this is where over-the-counter painkillers come in. Aspirin and ibuprofen block production of one class of these tuning chemicals, called prostaglandins. Let's take a look at how they do that. When cells are damaged, they release a chemical called arachidonic acid. And two enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2 convert this arachidonic acid into prostaglandin H2, which is then converted into a bunch of other chemicals that do a bunch of things, including raise your body temperature, cause inflammation and lower the pain threshold. Now, all enzymes have an active site. That's the place in the enzyme where the reaction happens. The active sites of COX-1 and COX-2 fit arachidonic acid very cozily. As you can see, there is no room to spare. Now, it's in this active site that aspirin and ibuprofen do their work. So, they work differently. Aspirin acts like a spine from a porcupine. It enters the active site and then breaks off, leaving half of itself in there, totally blocking that channel and making it impossible for the arachidonic acid to fit. This permanently deactivates COX-1 and COX-2. Ibuprofen, on the other hand, enters the active site, but doesn't break apart or change the enzyme. COX-1 and COX-2 are free to spit it out again, but for the time that that ibuprofen is in there, the enzyme can't bind arachidonic acid, and can't do its normal chemistry. But how do aspirin and ibuprofen know where the pain is? Well, they don't. Once the drugs are in your bloodstream, they are carried throughout your body, and they go to painful areas just the same as normal ones. So that's how aspirin and ibuprofen work. But there are other dimensions to pain. Neuropathic pain, for example, is pain caused by damage to our nervous system itself; there doesn't need to be any sort of outside stimulus. And scientists are discovering that the brain controls how we respond to pain signals. For example, how much pain you feel can depend on whether you're paying attention to the pain, or even your mood. Pain is an area of active research. If we can understand it better, maybe we can help people manage it better.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
arachidonic acid 4
active site 3
nerve cells 2
pain threshold 2

Important Words

  1. acid
  2. active
  3. acts
  4. arachidonic
  5. area
  6. areas
  7. aspirin
  8. attention
  9. beach
  10. bind
  11. block
  12. blocking
  13. bloodstream
  14. body
  15. brain
  16. break
  17. breaks
  18. bunch
  19. called
  20. carried
  21. case
  22. caused
  23. causing
  24. cells
  25. change
  26. channel
  27. chemical
  28. chemicals
  29. chemistry
  30. class
  31. closer
  32. conduct
  33. controls
  34. convert
  35. converted
  36. cool
  37. cord
  38. cozily
  39. crazy
  40. cross
  41. damage
  42. damaged
  43. deactivates
  44. depend
  45. detectors
  46. differently
  47. dimensions
  48. discomfort
  49. discovering
  50. drugs
  51. early
  52. electrical
  53. enters
  54. enzyme
  55. enzymes
  56. extreme
  57. eyes
  58. feel
  59. fire
  60. fit
  61. free
  62. gently
  63. grow
  64. hand
  65. hard
  66. harder
  67. healthy
  68. human
  69. hurt
  70. ibuprofen
  71. impossible
  72. including
  73. inflammation
  74. information
  75. install
  76. internal
  77. joints
  78. leaving
  79. located
  80. lowering
  81. making
  82. manage
  83. metal
  84. mood
  85. muscles
  86. nearby
  87. needle
  88. nerve
  89. nervous
  90. neuropathic
  91. nociceptor
  92. nociceptors
  93. normal
  94. organs
  95. pain
  96. painful
  97. painkillers
  98. paying
  99. people
  100. permanently
  101. place
  102. point
  103. porcupine
  104. producing
  105. production
  106. prostaglandin
  107. prostaglandins
  108. protects
  109. push
  110. raise
  111. reaction
  112. regular
  113. release
  114. research
  115. respond
  116. rinse
  117. room
  118. sand
  119. scientists
  120. sending
  121. sensation
  122. set
  123. signals
  124. site
  125. sites
  126. skin
  127. sort
  128. sound
  129. spare
  130. specialized
  131. spinal
  132. spine
  133. spit
  134. start
  135. stimulus
  136. stone
  137. stop
  138. stretch
  139. system
  140. teeth
  141. telling
  142. temperature
  143. threshold
  144. time
  145. tip
  146. totally
  147. touch
  148. tune
  149. tuning
  150. understand
  151. warning
  152. work
  153. world