At the time, scientists at Dr. Jul Julius’ lab knew that the receptor they identified – TRPV1, a channel on the surface of cells activated by capsaicin – had to be initially developed for more general stimulation, with rare instances when someone might encounter hot peppers. Dr. Michael Katarina, a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said this other stimulus turned into heat, which helped Dr. Jul Julius conduct an important 1997 study on the subject in his lab. It also activates the acid channel.
Tobias Rosen, a graduate of the lab, “came up with the clever acknowledgment that what we originally cloned was a hot and sour soup receptor,” said Dr. C Katarina. “It contains acid, it has a warm temperature and it is spicy.”
In search of a molecular basis for touch, Dr. Pat Patapautian also had to go through several possible genes. One by one, he and his associates inactivated the genes until they identified the unit, which, when disabled, made the cells sensitive to the thrust of a tiny pipette.
The inseparable channel of touch sensation became known as Piezo1, after the Greek word stress. That channel, described in a 2010 study, and a similar one, are now known to control a wide range of susceptible physical activity, says Dr. Walter Koroshej, director of the NIH National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which is provided by Dr. Jul Julius By
These functions include vascular function, respiration, and sensitivity to a full bladder.
Why is work important?
Pain receptor detection arouses the interest of drug companies: if you can block the channel identified by Dr. Jul Julius, they argued, you can deal with chronic pain.
But there were several big problems. One is that some sensitivity to pain is useful; Without it, people run the risk of running a hot bath or burning their hands over the stove. “Pain serves a purpose,” Dr. Katarina said.
Another is that the same channels that respond to heat contribute to body temperature control. Blocking them can lead to a slight fever – a potentially big liability.