Agriculture
Seeds of the Future
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Keeping Bugs Away from Food
Amphibians
Frogs and Toads
Salamanders
Toads
Animals
Insect Stowaways
Mouse Songs
Armadillo
Behavior
Eating Troubles
Mind-reading Machine
Giving Sharks Safe Homes
Birds
Albatrosses
Emus
Hummingbirds
Chemistry and Materials
A New Basketball Gets Slick
The Incredible Shrunken Kids
When frog gender flips
Computers
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
New eyes to scan the skies
Getting in Touch with Touch
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Downsized Dinosaurs
South America's sticky tar pits
Fossil Forests
E Learning Jamaica
Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Rocking the House
Riding to Earth's Core
Shrinking Glaciers
Environment
Bald Eagles Forever
Little Bits of Trouble
Spotty Survival
Finding the Past
Of Lice and Old Clothes
Oldest Writing in the New World
A Long Trek to Asia
Fish
Lungfish
Goldfish
Lampreys
Food and Nutrition
Recipe for Health
Allergies: From Bee Stings to Peanuts
Making good, brown fat
GSAT English Rules
Who vs. That vs. Which
Subject and Verb Agreement
Capitalization Rules
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
GSAT Exams Jamaica Scholarships
GSAT Exam Preparation
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
GSAT Mathematics
Detecting True Art
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
Deep-space dancers
Human Body
From Stem Cell to Any Cell
Taking the sting out of scorpion venom
Gut Microbes and Weight
Invertebrates
Scorpions
Wasps
Cockroaches
Mammals
Yorkshire Terriers
Dogs
Miscellaneous Mammals
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Expert report highlights the importance to parents of reading to children!
How children learn
Physics
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Gaining a Swift Lift
The Particle Zoo
Plants
Springing forward
Making the most of a meal
Cactus Goo for Clean Water
Reptiles
Tortoises
Asp
Alligators
Space and Astronomy
An Icy Blob of Fluff
Slip-sliding away
Killers from Outer Space
Technology and Engineering
Are Propellers Fin-ished?
Musclebots Take Some Steps
Beyond Bar Codes
The Parts of Speech
What is a Preposition?
Pronouns
Problems with Prepositions
Transportation
Robots on a Rocky Road
How to Fly Like a Bat
Where rivers run uphill
Weather
Polar Ice Feels the Heat
Where rivers run uphill
Warmest Year on Record
Add your Article

Hot Pepper, Hot Spider

Hot peppers and painful spider bites don't seem to have much in common. Both, however, can cause a similar burning sensation. New research now suggests a reason why. A chemical in hot peppers and different ones in spider venom happen to activate the same pain sensors in cells. The research centered on neurons—special cells that allow the brain and body to communicate with each other. Proteins, called receptors, sit on the surface of neurons and control whether the cells send messages or not. A pain receptor will make a neuron "fire" only when a specific molecule shows up to activate it. Several years ago, scientists discovered a receptor that's sensitive to a chemical called capsaicin—the molecule that gives hot peppers their spicy kick. Further studies showed that this receptor and related ones sense both chemicals and temperature. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) wondered whether these receptors might also respond to spider venom. Scientists know a lot about the molecules in venom that cause shock, paralysis, and death, but they don't know much about the molecules that cause pain. To learn more, they studied the venoms of spiders, scorpions, and snails that make you go "ouch." Experiments showed that the venom of just one West Indian tarantula species, known as the Trinidad chevron, activated the same receptor that's sensitive to capsaicin. Within that spider's venom, the scientists found three substances responsible for the effect. In the lab, the group then tested each of these substances by applying them, one at a time, to mouse neurons in a dish. Some of the mouse neurons were normal and able to fire in response to capsaicin. Others were engineered so that they couldn't react to capsaicin. The results showed that the venom molecules activated only the neurons that could also react to capsaicin. And only animals that had the normal neurons felt pain in response to any of the molecules. It makes sense that peppers and spiders came up with the same strategy to cause pain, says UCSF researcher David Julius. "Different organisms have figured out how to tap this site as a way of telling predators, 'You won't be comfortable if you mess with me,'" he says. Future research on the venom-and-veggie sensory pathway might eventually help scientists develop drugs for people to block certain types of pain.—E. Sohn

Hot Pepper, Hot Spider
Hot Pepper, Hot Spider








Designed and Powered by HBJamaica.com™