Neuroscientst David McKemy and his team have discovered a way to disable the sensation of cold.
The work is based on exploring the connection between feeling the cold and a protein called TRPM8 which senses low temperatures in the neurons of the skin. By isolating and ablating the neurons that express this protein, the team was able to test those cells' functionality specifically. Experiments conducted on mice using this technique revealed that the ability to feel the cold could be suppressed while still allowing the animals to feel warmth. It is hoped the research will eventually lead to new types of pain medication.
"The problem with pain drugs now is that they typically just reduce inflammation, which is just one potential cause of pain, or they knock out all sensation, which often is not desirable," said McKemy. "One of our goals is to pave the way for medications that address the pain directly, in a way that does not leave patients completely numb."
"USC neuroscientists have isolated chills at a cellular level, identifying the sensory network of neurons in the skin that relays the sensation of cold."
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Source: Science Daily
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