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Researchers turn pain perception on and off in mice using light

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Posted February 19, 2014
Researchers turn pain perception on and off in mice using light
Intrasciatic injection of AAV6-hSyn-ChR2-eYFP results in transduction of unmyelinated nociceptors projecting to spinal cord lamina I/IIo. Credit: Nature Biotechnology (2014) doi:10.1038/nbt.2834
A team of researchers at Stanford University has found a way to turn the perception of pain on and off using only a light source. In their paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the team describes how they genetically altered nerve receptors beneath the skin in mice, and how doing so allowed for controlling the perception of pain.

Optogenetics, the science of using a light source to control cell functions, was first pioneered a decade ago in a lab co-run by Karl Deisseroth. He’s now one of the co-founders of Circuit Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based research lab. There, he and colleagues are working to find a ways to use optogenetics to ease the various forms of pain that people experience. The idea is to genetically modify cells so that they respond in desired ways when light is shone on them. In this latest effort, the researchers did just that.

The team caused nerve cells just beneath the skin of several mice to respond to light—receptors were turned on or off—by first injecting a solution of molecules directly into the nerve endings. The skin on mice feet is so thin that light can pass right through it and on to the pain receptors below.

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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