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Unknown Organ Under Human Skin Found, May Help Detect Pain

A recent study published in the journal Science, 'Specialized cutaneous Schwann cells initiate pain sensation' asserts the discovery of a previously unknown organ, located under the skin. The unknown organ is said to possess the ability to help you feel pain from pricks (small amount).

It was thought that a small amount of pain or pain from a pinprick was perceived through the nerve endings located below the outer layer of the skin. But the new study disregards this by suggesting that it is not only the nerves but also the cells that are tangled up in cells that cause you to flinch when something pricks you [1] .

Although science speaks of the various kinds of sensory organs in the skin, those were the ones involved in touch sensation. The newfound sensory organ is a mesh of branched cells and nerves, responds to the external cues and passes on the information to your brain and stands apart from the already known sensory organs because this one plays a significant role in pain reception [2] .

The sensory organ is sensitive to pricks or jabs and sends the signal to the brain on the application of pressure, which then is sent back to the site of the prick, which causes the sensation of pain.

The cells that compose the sensory organ, which is termed as Schwann cells, "look a little bit like an octopus, with long, tentacle-like protrusions extending into surrounding nerves", said Patrik Ernfors, a Professor of Tissue Biology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

In order to assimilate the function of these specific Schwann cells in the skin [3] , the researchers conducted a lab study using the method optogenetics. The study helped in gathering the result that the cells were able to help perceive the sensation of pain.

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Speaking about the lab study, the researcher has said, "When we turn these cells off, the animals feel much less pressure and pain". The Schwann cells are being considered as a new potential target cell for medication.

Now, the researchers are gearing to examine whether the cell has any role in creating the sensation of chronic pain [1] .

"Chronic pain has become a focus of attention as opioid addiction continues to debilitate lives and cause mortality", asserted the researchers [4] .

View Article References
  1. [1] Abdo, H., Calvo-Enrique, L., Lopez, J. M., Song, J., Zhang, M. D., Usoskin, D., ... & Ernfors, P. (2019). Specialized cutaneous Schwann cells initiate pain sensation. Science, 365(6454), 695-699.
  2. [2] Doan, R. A., & Monk, K. R. (2019). Glia in the skin activate pain responses. Science, 365(6454), 641-642.
  3. [3] Hartlehnert, M., Derksen, A., Hagenacker, T., Kindermann, D., Schäfers, M., Pawlak, M., ... & zu Horste, G. M. (2017). Schwann cells promote post-traumatic nerve inflammation and neuropathic pain through MHC class II. Scientific reports, 7(1), 12518.
  4. [4] Saplakoglu, Y. (2019, August 19). Scientists Just Found a Previously Unknown Organ Lurking Under Your Skin, and It Helps Detect Pain. Retrieved from,
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