Scientists find new sensory organ in mice, expect to find it in humans as well

This organ is sensitive to environmental factors such as pricks and pressure, and is made up of glial cells,

Scientists have discovered a new sensory organ in mice and they are of the opinion that it will be found in the human body as well.

According to a statement released by the Karolinska University, this organ is sensitive to ‘hazardous environmental irritation’ such as pricks and pressure. It is made up of glial cells with multiple, long protrusions that form a mesh-like organ within the skin.

"Our study shows that sensitivity to pain does not occur only in the skin's nerve fibres, but also in this recently-discovered pain-sensitive organ. The discovery changes our understanding of the cellular mechanisms of physical sensation and it may be of significance in the understanding of chronic pain," says Patrik Ernfors, a molecular neurobiologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and co-author of the study, in a press release.

Representational image

Representational image

The researchers first found these cells in mice and measured the rodents' responses to pain by measuring the cell’s function. They turned off the functions of the cells that make up the organ through gene editing and found that the mice had a very normal response to thermal pain – cold and heat. They then deactivated the glial complex and found that the mice showed a reduced response to mechanical pain.

These tests changed researchers' perceptions of pain propagation in mice.

An illustration of nociceptive Schwann cells Image credit: Abdo, et al (Science)

An illustration of nociceptive Schwann cells Image credit: Abdo, et al (Science)

Ernfors said in an interview to the National Geographic, “Considering that all other previously known sensory organs in (mice) also exist in humans, it is possible, if not likely, that this sensory organ also is present in our skin,”

This study can help to find treatments for many people who suffer from neuropathic pain disorders.

The finding from this study has been published in the journal Science. The study describes what the new organ looks like, how it is organized together, and how the activations of the organ result in electrical impulses in the nervous system, and the experience of pain.

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