Star-Nosed Mole Touches A Nerve

Despite a face only a mother could love, the star-nosed mole is the darling of researchers interested in how animals and humans detect touch and its extreme – pain.

UC Berkeley physiologist Diana Bautista reported in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal PLOS ONE that she has found 20 new touch and pain receptors in the mole that have counterparts in humans. The finding could jump-start pain research, which has been difficult because touch and pain receptors are intermixed in the skin. Since moles’ snouts are uniquely innervated with mostly touch sensitive cells, Bautista and her colleagues were able to isolate and discover the genes expressed in them.

Go To The Article »
Go To PLOS ONE paper »