This Is Why Wasabi Sets Your Mouth On Fire

A single taste is enough to make you unforgettably familiar with the effects of wasabi, but why does it happen? The reason is this protein right here — and it has some major implications for how we treat pain.

David Julius and Yifan Cheng of The University of California San Francisco created this 3D model — the first ever — of receptor TRPA1, better known as the "wasabi receptor", the protein responsible for giving wasabi its bite.


But it's not just sushi science. TRPA1 has another function: Pain. More specifically, pain from inflammation, such as a burn. With better knowledge of just how TRPA1 is put together, say the UCSF researchers, they could better design anti-inflammatory drugs to block that pain from being as strongly felt.

The full paper is published over at Nature. You can check it out right here.

Gif created using footage from this video by UCSF.

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