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Researchers finds hidden sensory system in the skin
Date:12/8/2009

December 15, 2009 (Albany, N.Y., USA) The human sensory experience is far more complex and nuanced than previously thought, according to a groundbreaking new study published in the December 15 issue of the journal Pain (http://www.painjournalonline.com/article/S0304-3959%2809%2900526-0/abstract). In the article, researchers at Albany Medical College, the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University report that the human body has an entirely unique and separate sensory system aside from the nerves that give most of us the ability to touch and feel. Surprisingly, this sensory network is located throughout our blood vessels and sweat glands, and is for most people, largely imperceptible.

"It's almost like hearing the subtle sound of a single instrument in the midst of a symphony," said senior author Frank Rice, PhD, a Neuroscience Professor at Albany Medical College (AMC), who is a leading authority on the nerve supply to the skin. "It is only when we shift focus away from the nerve endings associated with normal skin sensation that we can appreciate the sensation hidden in the background."

The research team discovered this hidden sensory system by studying two unique patients who were diagnosed with a previously unknown abnormality by lead author David Bowsher, M.D., Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Pain Research Institute. These patients had an extremely rare condition called congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they were born with very little ability to feel pain. Other rare individuals with this condition have excessively dry skin, often mutilate themselves accidentally and usually have severe mental handicaps. "Although they had a few accidents over their lifetimes, what made these two patients unique was that they led normal lives. Excessive sweating brought them to the clinic, where we di
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Contact: Alex Brownstein
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Integrated Tissue Dynamics (INTIDYN)
Source:Eurekalert

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