Scientists have discovered a new type of nerve cell in the human body. Further research can lead to new pain killers, writes The Guardian.
The cells are said to be close to the skin, near other nerve cells that respond to pain stimuli. A follow-up study should show whether the new cell is also the cause of diseases in which people experience chronic pain.
It would be a new type of Schwanncel. These are units within the human body that accelerate impulse conduction of nerve fibers.
How the discovery has remained under the radar so far is a mystery to the researchers. They think it was simply simply missed because another type of Schwanncel is in a similar position in the body. However, this group would perform a protective function relative to other cells.
The newly discovered cells are said to be in the shape of an octopus, with the ends wrapped around nerve cells. In addition, the cell extends to the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.
The scientists discovered that the cells can feel pain by testing genetically modified mice, they write in an article published Friday in the scientific journal Science.
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