Swedish scientists have discovered a previously unknown organ through which humans detect environmental hazards that may be responsible for certain types of pain. It is located under the upper part of the skin.
It is an organ consisting of cells located near the nerve that, as an octopus, enclose and enter the nerve cells to sustain them. Previously it was not known that they participate in the feeling of pain. The cell structure is located just below the surface of the skin.
The discovery was published in the journal Science. Scientists are surprised by the new discovery because they have long believed that the nerve endings of the epidermis are bare or wrapped. But the structure forms a single, entangled network of nearby nerve cells throughout the body, leading researchers to claim that it should be formally named an organ.
"Our research shows that pain sensitivity not only occurs in the skin nerves but also in this recently discovered pain sensitive organ," said study author Patrick Ernfors. "The new organ is a two-cell receptor made up of a nerve and a Schwann cell," he adds.
This finding may lead to the development of new painkillers.