The Science of Pain

Volume 32 Issue 1 | January 2018

Featured Articles

image: Glial Ties to Persistent Pain

Glial Ties to Persistent Pain

By Mark R. Hutchinson | January 1, 2018

Immune-like cells in the central nervous system are now recognized as key participants in the creation and maintenance of persistent pain.

image: Targeting Sodium Channels for Pain Relief

Targeting Sodium Channels for Pain Relief

By Catherine Offord | January 1, 2018

The race to develop analgesic drugs that inhibit sodium channel NaV1.7 is revealing a complex sensory role for the protein.

image: Animal Analgesics

Animal Analgesics

By The Scientist Staff | January 1, 2018

A cornucopia of toxins in the animal kingdom could provide inspiration for novel painkillers, but so far, effective drugs have proven elusive.  




Meet some of the people featured in the January 2018 issue of The Scientist.


Prizes and Penalties

Life is filled with pleasure and pain. Science and society are struggling mightily with both.

Speaking of Science

Ten-Minute Sabbatical

Take a break from the bench to puzzle and peruse.

Freeze Frame

Caught on Camera

Selected Images of the Day from the-scientist.com


What Bat Quarrels Tell Us About Vocal Learning

New research shows humans aren’t that different from our winged cousins.

Sex Differences in Opioid Analgesia: A Complicated Picture

Researchers are beginning to tease apart the mechanisms underlying differences in how males and females respond to powerful painkillers.

Researchers Team Up with Patients to Build a Breast Cancer Database

Combining genomic, clinical, and patient-reported data, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project provides a unique resource for the cancer community.

Mothers Are Hard-Wired to Respond Similarly to Infant Cries Across Cultures

Researchers find consistent behaviors and brain activity in an international study.

Online First

Child Receives Transgenic Skin

A combination gene-and-cell therapy has given a boy with a grievous skin disease a new lease on life, and resolved a dermatology debate to boot.

Modus Operandi

3-D–Printed Ethoscopes Lower Barriers to Large-Scale Fly Behavior Studies

The DIY devices collect data and enable light stimulation, chamber agitation, and gas infusion.


Novel Analgesics at a Snail’s Pace

Studying cone snail venom has yielded novel pain pathways, but the peptides that function as toxins are difficult to translate into drugs.

Researchers Mine Centipede Toxins for Analgesics

Venomous centipedes may harbor a clue to the creation of a successful pain-killing compound for humans.

Mining Spider Toxins for Analgesic Clues

Arachnids harbor a plentiful array of molecules that target mammalian pain receptors.

Toxin from a Dangerous Fish Delicacy

In tiny doses, the pufferfish’s tetrodotoxin can be turned into a pain-relieving ion channel blocker.

Sourcing Painkillers from Scorpions’ Stings

Compounds in the arachnids’ venom interact with ion channels to both cause and block pain.

Sea Anemone Toxin Could Treat Autoimmunity

If successful, the treatments could alleviate patients’ pain by reducing inflammation.

Frog Skin Yields Potent Painkillers, but None Clinic Ready

Decades after their discovery by bioprospectors, amphibian-derived analgesics continue to attract scientific attention.

Snake Venoms Cause and Block Pain

Painful snake bites may hold clues to developing analgesic drugs.

The Literature

Distinct Regions Drive Responses to Anxiety, Fear

Researchers map brain activity associated with a person’s anticipation of or direct confrontation with danger.

Linoleic Acid Derivatives Potentially Mediate Pain and Itch in the Skin

Researchers uncover a family of compounds that may be involved in pain transmission.

Skin “Remembers” Wounds, Heals Faster the Second Time Around

After an initial wounding, genes needed for repair remain ready for action.


David Julius Probes the Molecular Mechanics of Pain

For nearly 30 years, the UC San Francisco researcher has delved into unexplored corners of the nervous system.

Scientist to Watch

Annina Schmid Dissects Nerve Disorders

A background in physiotherapy helps the Oxford-based researcher mix basic science with clinical work to better understand pain stemming from nerve compression.

Lab Tools

High-Throughput Epigenetics Analyses

Emerging technologies help researchers draw mechanistic links between metabolism and epigenetic modification of DNA.

Bio Business

The Quest for Safer Opioid Drugs

From basic research in academic labs to Phase 3 clinical trials, myriad efforts are underway to divorce opioids' pain-relieving potential from their undesirable downsides.

Reading Frames

Why Swearing and Pain Go Hand in Hand

Screaming obscenities when you stub your toe makes perfect biological sense.


Fake News: Mars Edition, circa 1877

Giovanni Schiaparelli’s maps of Mars sparked the belief that intelligent life exists on the planet.

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