Skin Cells Can Be Used to Test Pain?
Lyndsay LaMariana (11 AM Micro) read an interesting article from Science Daily, which describes some new research in the Stem Cell field, which apparently accomplishes something neat–one terminally differentiated cell from an adult is converted into a completely different type of cell. This research was recently published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Here is Lyndsay’s summary:
After continuous years of research Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology have effectively found an answer to their unsolved quest. These biologists have figured out how to turn human and mouse skin cells into neurons in order to test pain. This pain can range from tenderness such as after getting a shot, to falling and cutting open ones leg, and lastly to burning oneself and screaming out in pain. This is a very important aspect in their research because it makes their research more valid. These neurons can react to many different stimuli’s and senses of pain which the human body can do as well, meaning that the tests they do on these stem cells react in the same way that we would.
This is very important research in the medical field because it can be used in order to test and create new medicine and treatments. For example, scientists now could use this method to test how human skin cells would react to cancer therapy radiation. Scientists could test how the skin cells would react and how strong they can make the radiation. Not only testing how strong the radiation that could be used, scientists can also test how it could affect someone. If a scientist used this method and the skin cells reacted poorly they could prevent this from happening in real life and prevent an actual human being from being harmed.
This research can also be used to test medicine that can be placed on cuts and wounds to facilitate healing. These ointments, lotions, and or liquids can be tested prior on the neurons of the skin cells. This again will allow for scientists to test if a patient will be highly in pain or uncomfortable from a certain type of medication.
The only downside of this research is that in the beginning it was tested on embryonic stem cells and didn’t work. The research only showed results when switched to adult skin cells. This brings upon the question that if medicine is tested on these stem cells to infer pain levels it might only be valuable for adults. However, this is a huge breakthrough and it will only grow bigger from here. This is only the beginning for research on how these skin cells can be used and how effective they are with receiving pain and reacting.