By: 10 January 2015
Pain in a dish: Researcher turns skin cells into pain-sensing neurons

After more than six years of intensive effort, a team of Harvard researchers has successfully converted mouse and human skin cells into pain-sensing neurons that respond to a number of stimuli that cause acute and inflammatory pain.

The ‘disease in a dish’ model of pain reception may advance the understanding of why individuals differ in their pain responses or risk of developing chronic pain, and make possible the development of improved drugs to treat pain.
Clifford Woolf, co-director of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI)’s nervous systems diseases programme led the research effort, with collaborators including postdoctoral fellows Brian Wainger and Liz Buttermore, as well as Lee Rubin and Kevin Eggan, both professors in Harvard’s department of stem cell and regenerative biology.
The pain-sensing neurons created by Woolf and his team are reported to respond to…

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