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Scientists Discover Way To 'Turn Off' Sensation Of Feeling Cold

feelingcold 021413

Those who are overly sensitive to cold temperatures may be glad to hear that scientists have discovered a way to turn off the neuron responsible for sensing cold in mice, according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience (February 12).

Researchers at the University of Southern California isolated a protein called TRPM8, which acts as a sensor of cold in neurons in the skin. Using mouse tracking software program to test control mice and mice without TRPM8 neurons on a multi-temperature surface, they found that mice without TRPM8 could not feel cold but did feel the sensation of heat and pain.

"Some side effects of certain chemotherapy drugs cause sensitivity to the cold—so much that a cool glass of water is excruciatingly cold," lead author David McKenny said of possible uses of the discovery. "Some diabetics and people who have bone injuries also show these sorts of things."

Turning off the TRPM8 protein was accomplished by injecting mice with a form of specially coded bacteria.

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