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Nerve Clues: New Research on Mice May Help Understand Pain

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Research being conducted at the Institute for Basic Biomedical Science at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine is bringing scientists closer to understanding the mechanics of sensory nerves. Advanced techniques have allowed the researchers to map the skin nerves of mice and the results, along with molecular and neurological information, could help scientists and doctors better understand all forms of sensory input – including pain.

Medical News Today reported on the research led by Hao Wu, Ph. D. According to the article, researchers used “a genetic trick” to color microscopic nerve cells in the skin on the backs of mice. By coloring the nerves, scientists were able to use software to map individual nerve cells and see them, for the first time, in detail. They discovered that different types of nerve cells create different, branching patterns on the skin which likely relate to different functions.

Much more research will be needed to fully understand the roles different nerve cells play, and to discover what benefits may be in store for pain sufferers. But the new image mapping technique could prove a boon for this sort of research. To view the beautiful images, check out the original study at elife.elifescience.org.