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Nobel Prize and mice studies

Research with mice to understand the sensations of heat and touch has been recognised in this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The prize went jointly to US scientists David Julius of University of California, and Ardem Patapoutian, of Scripps Research, in La Jolla, for their discoveries of receptors in the skin that sense temperature and touch.

The breakthrough discoveries identified missing links between our senses and the environment, paving the way for potential new treatments for conditions such as chronic pain.

Both scientists used mice in their studies, Patapoutian found sensors that respond to touch and pressure, while David Julius identified a receptor that responds to heat, noticing that pain sensation was impaired in mice that lacked the receptor for capsaicin - an ingredient in chili peppers.

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