August 26, 2019
For decades medical specialists have thought they have the full picture about how we detect pain through our skin, but this may be about to be turned on its head. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute have just made an incredible discovery in mice, a new kind of pain receptor just under the skin.
This newly discovered sensory organ is a web of Schwann cells and nerve cells under the skin, and it detects mechanical pain, such as pressure and pin pricks. The researchers bred mice that had been genetically engineered to have these Schwann cells triggered by light and observed that these mice showed signs of pain when exposed to light. Other mice were genetically engineered to have none of these Schwann cells, and they showed decreased sensitivity to mechanical pain, but still responded to other types of pain, such as thermal pain.
While this organ has not yet been shown to be present in humans, if it is, it could open up new pathways of investigation into chronic pain, and creation of new pain treatments.
Source: Science Alert
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