Daily Archives: August 5, 2008

Science Fantasy Football 2008

The league is set up. To join: Continue reading

Science blogging fantasy football league?

Dear fellow science bloggers and readers, I’m a fantasy football junky and as I was setting up another league I thought it might be fun (and interesting) to start up a fantasy football league for friends and readers of this here blog. If anyone is interested, drop a line in the comments. I’ll set it up on yahoo (largely because yahoo is easy and its easy to keep your ID secret in those leagues) and I will email out info on league details as we get enough players lined up. So, who thinks they can take Juniorprof on the fantasy football field?

Things that make you go hmmm…

Every once in a while a paper comes out that really makes you reconsider what you thought was true about your biological system of interest. For me, one of those papers came out last week in Science. The paper is from John Wood’s lab at UCL and the link is here. Interestingly, there is also a podcast (which I think is free) associated with the paper.

So what did they do and why is this paper so very interesting and possibly paradigm shifting? Many years ago, Armen Akopian, working in Wood’s lab, discovered a special sort of voltage gated sodium channel that is exclusively expressed in pain sensing neurons and is not sensitive to the prototypical sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin. This sodium channel — now called Nav1.8 — has been widely considered an important target for drug development for pain for many years now but the gene locus has also been an important tool because it allows you to exclusively express certain genes (via a knockin strategy) in pain sensing neurons. Several years ago Wood’s lab created a Nav1.8-CRE expressing mouse that allows for the knockout of floxed genes in pain sensing neurons. In the current paper they have taken advantage of CRE expressed in pain sensing neurons to allow for the expression of a toxin that wipes out this class of neurons. One might imagine that this would eliminate pain in these mice. That would be only half of the story… Continue reading