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An ‘Off' Switch For Pain?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 06:39 PM

It may sound like science fiction: A biochemical switch that can turn pain on and off, like a light. But scientists in Munich, working with colleagues in France and the U.S., have identified pain-sensitive nerve cells that can be turned on and off with a chemical “light switch.”
In laboratory experiments, the scientific team has been able to block the action of nerve cells that signal pain by manipulating a chemical compound they call “QAQ.” The findings, reported in the journal Nature Methods, could lead to a better understanding of pain and one day pave the way for innovative new treatments.
Researchers, led by Dirk Trauner, reported QAQ can be altered by light of a specific wavelength. They added that QAQ’s chemical makeup resembles lidocaine, the common local anesthetic used by dentists. Lidocaine blocks pain by inhibiting the action of receptors found on nerve cells in the skin, which respond to painful stimuli and transmit signals to the nervous system.
Trauner's team said the new method has been primarily developed as a tool for additional studies of pain. Treatment of patients based on the new findings are "a long way off," said Timm Fehrentz, one of the study’s authors.

© HealthDay

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German scientists have identified a chemical 'light switch' that can turn pain on and off.
Wednesday, 22 February 2012 06:39 PM
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