New way to block pain at source `discovered`

Updated: Apr 27, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

Washington: In what could be called a
major breakthrough, scientists have discovered what they claim
is a new "chili" way to block pain at its source.

A team at Texas University has claimed a substance
similar to capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their heat, is
generated at the site of pain in human body, and found that
blocking their production can stop the pain.

"Capsaicin is an ingredient in hot chili peppers and
causes pain by activating a receptor -- transient potential
vanilloid 1 (TRPV1). We started out seeking the answer to the
question `Why is TRPV1 consistently activated in the body upon
injury or painful heat?
"We wanted to know how skin cells talk to pain
neurons. What we found was much more surprising and exciting.
We have discovered a family of endogenous capsaicin-like
molecules that are naturally released during injury, and now
we understand how to block these mechanisms with a new class
of therapies," team leader Kenneth Hargreaves said.