Chemists from the University of Munich, Ludwig -Maximilians- in collaboration with colleagues at Berkeley and Bordeaux have shown in laboratory experiments to suppress the activity of neurons responsible for pain.
The procedure takes place in the presence of an agent who plays the role of light-sensitive switch. In the future, new technology may be the most ...
... Its molecule consists of two functional parts, each of which contains a quaternary ammonium- nitrogen double bond linked (N = N). This bridge is a switch responsive to irradiation with light.
One half of QAQ resembles a well-known local anesthetic lidocaine, which blocks the perception of pain by inhibiting the action of receptors in the skin.
Neuroreceptors - are proteins that span the outer membrane of nerve cells. They have pores that open in response to relevant stimuli and carry into the cells of electrically charged ions. It is this ion channel is a target molecule of QAQ, similar to lidocaine. QAQ molecule reacts to the heat and pass into the nerve cells of the positively charged sodium ions, changing the potential at the cell membrane. At the same time QAQ associated with the ion channel only when the molecule has an elongated shape. When cells are irradiated with light of wavelength 380 nm, the bridge bends and within a few milliseconds enabled the transfer of nerve impulses. Exposure to light with a wavelength of 500 nm, the molecule returns an elongated shape and disables the transmission of nerve impulses. Analgesic effect of the switch was confirmed in experiments on animals.
While the therapeutic use to QAQ far. First of all, the monochromatic light used for the isomerization of the molecule QAQ, can not penetrate human skin to a depth necessary for the effects on neurons. Researchers hope to find molecules that are similar to QAQ, which respond to long wavelength red light, easily absorbed through the skin.