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Naked mole-rats in the news

last modified Oct 15, 2016 11:10 AM
This work was covered in a wide variety of news outlets including the Science magazine, the Daily Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which included an interview with Ewan Smith, co-lead author on the study...

Sensitisation is a process integral to how pain works, when part of the body becomes injured the area becomes extra sensitive so that it is better protected. For example, if you twist your ankle and the area becomes red and swollen, stimuli that used to cause some pain now cause more pain (hyperalgesia) and stimuli that caused no pain now cause pain (allodynia). Sensitisation is usually protective, but in chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, the sensitisation is out of control because the pain serves no purpose. Sensitisation is itself driven by numerous inflammatory mediators, including nerve growth factor (NGF), which causes sensitisation of pain-sensing neurones (nociceptors) by binding to its receptor TrkA. The importance of this signalling pathway is demonstrated by NGF being targeted in numerous chronic pain conditions. 

Although NGF-mediated pain is conserved in most mammalian species where it has been investigated, an exception is the naked mole-rat, which displays no response to NGF whatsoever. Recent work led by collaborators in Berlin of the Smith lab has identified that the reason for this lack of NGF-induced sensitisation is due to genetic variation in the TrkA receptor. 

This work was covered in a wide variety of news outlets including the Science magazine, the Daily Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which included an interview with Ewan Smith, co-lead author on the study.

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