Nerve finding unravels mystery about communication between the gut and brain

Scientists at Flinders University have, for the first time, identified a specific type of sensory nerve ending in the gut and how these may ‘talk’ to the spinal cord, communicating pain or discomfort to the brain.

This discovery is set to inform the development of new medications to treat problems associated with gut-to-brain communication, paving the way for targeted treatments to mitigate related dysfunction.

While our understanding of the gut’s neurosensory abilities has grown rapidly in recent years, two of the great mysteries have been where and how the different types of sensory nerve endings in the gut lie, and how they are activated.

An important step in answering these questions has been made possible through the development of new techniques by Professor Nick Spencer’s Visceral Neurophysiology laboratory at Flinders University in South Australia.

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