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Thermosensation research leads to better understanding of pain

Narrator:    This is Science Today. Understanding thermosensation, or the ability to sense hot, cold and chemical irritants, is important for understanding chronic pain syndromes that are linked to tumor growth, infections and other types of injury. Dr. David Julius, a professor and chair of the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, is an award-winning researcher who has studied tarantula toxins and the capsaicin molecule that causes the heat in hot chili peppers, to better understand pain pathways.

Julius:        So, therapeutically we know that there's really a dearth of pharmacological treatments for pain. You know, there's opiates, there's non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, you know, aspirin, etc. And there are a few others, there's a lot of room for more, especially because there are different types of chronic pain syndromes and they'll probably require different types of treatment because they have different molecular underpinnings. And so the more targets that we have and certainly the more we understand about the basics of the signaling pathway, I think the greater the likelihood that we'll be able to take an intelligent and rational approach to developing medicines that can target different types of chronic pain syndromes.

Narrator:    For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.