Editor's choice: somatosensation

The ability to sense our environment is vital for all organisms, to allow response and adaptation to changes in both the external and internal environment. Somatosensation is the perception of stimuli associated with temperature, touch, pain, body position, and balance. The somatosensory system comprises neurons that perceive signals and convey information about our environment to the brain. In recognition of the importance of this subject to Biology and Medicine, the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian for their seminal work in identifying the receptors that the body uses to detect temperature and pressure. These receptors, along with others involved in somatosensation, have been implicated in numerous diseases and are the subject of multiple drug discovery efforts. Further understanding of the role of somatosensory receptors will inform drug discovery and also advance the development of sensory neural prosthetics.

This Collection highlights our most recent papers that further our mechanistic understanding of somatosensation, with a focus on temperature-, pain-, and pressure-sensing, as well as the therapeutic potential of somatosensory system components.

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Therapeutic target