Humans rely on the sensations of itch, touch, and pain for a broad range of essential behaviors. For example, acute pain acts as a warning signal that alerts us to noxious mechanical, chemical, and thermal stimuli, which are potentially tissue damaging. Likewise, itch sensations trigger reflexes that may protect us from disease-carrying insects. Despite these essential protective functions, itch and pain can outlast their usefulness and become chronic debilitating conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Dr. Bautista will summarize what is known about the biology of itch, touch, and pain, and then focus on her latest research identifying novel mechanisms that drive chronic itch and pain disorders.
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