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Accroding to new research, scientists are working on a new form of anesthesia controlled by light. The new molecule could allow doctors to specify which nerves to turn on and off to paint using wavelengths.

The new therapy is part of a new field called optogenetics in which scientists have developed ways to manipulate cells in living organisms using light. The new research is published in Nature Methods, and researchers over at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Munich and the University of Bordeaux developed a molecule called QAQ that acts like lidocaine which is a commonly used anesthetic.

After its been inserted into nerves that perceive pain, the new molecule is able to block out the ion channels responsible for feeling pain when exposed to a specific wavelenght of light. The researchers are testing the technique in rats. [Nature Methods via ArsTechnica]