Newly Discovered Platform Supports Turning Pain Off
Scientists have discovered a "scaffolding" protein that regulates pain, mental illnesses and other neurological complications.
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
What’s the Latest Development?
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, a mass of proteins called group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) live on the outer walls of nerve cells. “When these receptors lock in glutamate, a chemical that neurons use to communicate, it encourages neurons to fire.” Scientists were looking for ways to turn off the receptors because if not, they would remain active and prolong the suffering. Previous studies indicated mGluRs binded with another protein called Homer could turn it off. During a series of experiments in mice, researchers were able to see what other proteins bonded with mGlurs and Homer, this turned up a third protein called Preso1, which attracts protein kinases. According to Scientists, all of these things combined "coordinate the activation and deactivation of the mGluRs."
What’s the Big Idea?
Researchers have discovered the protein framework necessary to deactivate the mGluRs, which is the culprit for many neurological problems. Based on various tests conducted on mice, scientist were able to see how a group of proteins work together to suppress the effects of the active protein. According to neuroscience profession Paul Worley, MD of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, "Because mGluRs play so many important roles in the brain for so many different mental and neurological health conditions, knowledge of their regulatory mechanisms is extremely important."
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.