Researchers have genetically engineered mice that cannot feel cold temperatures.
The findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The article explains how the researchers were able to block and isolate receptors that are connected to the nerves that respond to cold.
Interestingly, the researchers were able to leave the nerve responses for other sensations unaffected. In the trials, the genetically engineered mice avoided areas with higher-than-normal temperatures, but showed no measurable reaction to areas with extreme cold temperatures that would normally drive them away.
The findings suggest that not all sensory responses are hardwired at levels of higher functioning, such as the brain or spinal cord.
The researchers say their objective is to eventually create drugs that could dull pain in patients without completely numbing their senses. Medical researchers at places like the National Institutes of Health have for years suggested that cooling analgesia could be used as an effective way of treating pain and inflammation.
You can listen to a podcast on the findings at the Scientific American Website.