A new study in mice has shown that getting rid of an enzyme called c-Kit increases pain tolerance. Gary Lewin and colleagues at the Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, Germany, said that the new finding could lead to the development of a new class of painkillers that work by blocking the enzyme.
The skin holds more than a million 'nociceptors', or bare nerve endings, around half of which fire in response to pain, reports New Scientist.
During the study, researchers found that mice which cannot make c-Kit took 40 per cent longer to jerk their paw away from a hot infrared beam.
Also, the beam had to be 6 degrees Celsius hotter to make the nociceptors fire.
On the contrary, in normal mice, c-Kit seems to be what makes inflamed skin feels pain more easily.