Red hot chilli peppers

Published: Thursday 15 January 1998

Scientists have discovered how chilli hurts and also found a new use for pain as well. David Julius and his team at the University of California, San Francisco, USA, have discovered a chemical called capsaicin that is responsible for the chilli pepper's piquant taste. They have also identified and cloned a chemical receptor. Capsaicin attaches itself to the receptor in the nervous system. This is the same receptor that gets activated during heat and pain responses. The discovery may help find new drugs for pain relief, including antidotes for killing the pain when someone consumes excess of chillies (Nature , Vol 389, No 6653).

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