Scientists Accidentally Discover How to Stop or Start Pain Using Light
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
A study published this week in Nature Biotechnology explains how scientists at Stanford’s Bio-X lab accidentally stumbled on their ability to end pain as we know it while researching light’s impact on muscle movement in mice.
The team had inserted proteins called opsins into the nerves of the mice and then waited several weeks until the mice’s nerves were light-sensitive to begin their tests. During the course of their research, they realized that different shades of light also seemed to impact the mice’s pain neurons; some shades stopped pain altogether, while others increased it. Says Scott Delp, co-author of the study and owner of the lab, “We thought, ‘Wow, we’re getting pain neurons, that could be really important.’”
Adam Clark Estes nicely summarizes the study’s significance for Gizmodo: “This bears huge implications in a number of fields, from neuroscience to psychology, and could help millions of people who suffer from chronic pain.”