Sunday, October 07, 2007

Easier dental work?

Harvard researchers report they've come up with a way to kill the pain of dentistry without the numbness and drooling that results. It's interesting because the solution is a well-known plant extract used in a new way - based on one researcher's intuitive "What if?" thought. The result: a compound made up of capsaicin (extracted from red peppers), which binds to receptors on pain-sensing neurons - and ONLY on pain-sensing neurons, not those directing touch, movement, etc. - and allows an anesthetic called QX-314 to infiltrate those neurons. There's a lot of work to be done yet to go from rat experiments to human trials, but the story is a good illustration of how the inventive process works.

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