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Pain sensation research may lead to new drug development

 

Narrator:    This is Science Today. For decades, researchers have used capsaicin, an active component in chili peppers, to identify neurons involved in pain sensation.

Julius:        You would first ask whether it was excited by capsaicin. So, when I came into this area and started thinking about pain biology, you know, as a molecular biologist, one of the immediate questions that people had tried to address, but for whatever reason had not been able to settle this issue, was to ask, "How is capsaicin working and is there a specific molecular target for this?"

Narrator:    Dr. David Julius of the University of California, San Francisco, has won numerous awards for his discoveries and insights into how capsaicin and other molecules work in the field of pain sensation.

Julius:        As scientists, you always want to find out the basics, ultimately from a therapeutic perspective — identifying targets, molecular targets that are involved in signaling in the pain pathway obviously has relevance for drug design because those are potential targets for the development of drugs.

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