Mice on Iceadmin
Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel that blistering cold outside today? That day may be closer than you think. Recently, a group of neuroscientists at the University of California identified the neurons that transmit the sensation of cold. They were then able to shut off these transmitters in a group of adult mice.
In an expiriment, McKemy depleted the neurons that express TRPM8 in a group of mice who were allowed to roam freely across surfaces of different temperatures, ranging from 32-122 degress F. They found that control mice preferred to stay in the warmer areas (approx 86 degrees F), while the study mice didn’t avoid any areas, including those of dangerously low temperatures. The mice could still feel heat, but couldn’t tell the difference between cold and comfortably warm areas.
Why study this? Not so we can run around in shorts all winter, but to develop more specific pain medications. Because the mice couldn’t feel ‘cold pain’ that may be associated with nerve injury and inflammation, scientists may be able to develop more effective pain relieving drugs. By isolating the neurons that feel certain types of pain, pain medications of the future could isolate specific pain rather than leaving the entire area numb.