A genome-wide hunt for genes that detect noxious stimuli in Drosophila points to a novel gene involved in pain sensation in humans, a finding that could help identify risk factors for chronic pain and lead to the development of new analgesics (Neely GG et al. Cell. 2010;143:628-638).
Researchers at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and others screened fruit flies for an abnormal response to a noxious heat stimulus. They identified 600 candidate pain genes, including the α2δ3 gene, which encodes part of a calcium channel. Calcium channels are a target of some existing pain-relief drugs.
Friedrich MJ. Seeking Pain Relief. JAMA. 2011;305(1):28. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1901