A Case Study in Pain Therapy
UTH is studying how pain signals are modified as a result of tissue damage. Fruit fly larvae serve as a useful model organism to study this process due to their small size, short life cycle, and genetic tools available in biomedical research. A heat probe is used that is attached to a thermal control panel (shown in A and B) to stimulate the larvae at very high temperatures.
Pain response is assessed by a unique "rolling" response that the larvae exhibit when stimulated at a sufficient temperature (shown in C).
Using this behavioral paradigm, UTH is investigating how tissue damage (such as mechanical wounding or ultraviolet radiation) results in hypersensitive pain signaling. Gene expression is currently be manipulated in larval pain receptors (shown in green in D) to identify the genes that regulate pain sensitivity.