By: 5 February 2015
Study offers new clue into how anaesthesia interacts with the brain

How anaesthesia interacts with the brain to block pain and induce a coma-like, memory-free state has been a mystery since anaesthesia was first used in operating theatres more than 160 years ago.

The debate has divided the anaesthesia research community into two camps: those that believe that anaesthetia interacts primarily on the cell membrane (the lipid bilayer) of nerve cells, perhaps altering it to the point that embedded proteins cannot function normally, and those who think that the membrane proteins themselves are altered directly.
New evidence to support the latter position, that anaesthesia interacts and alters membrane proteins directly, comes from a team at Weill Cornell Medical College who have found that the activity of ion channel proteins that are important for…

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