Pain Relief Foundation


Confocal microscope has many functions but it is very suitable for assessment of skin biopsies which in two previous MD projects were used for research purposes. Combined with sensory testing, skin biopsies when stained to show tiny nerve ending in the uppermost layer of the skin, the epidermis, provide a powerful tool for assessment of nerve pathology that cannot be obtained in any other way.

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  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing
  • Medical ResearchMedical Research


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Older PeopleOlder People
  • Women & GirlsWomen & Girls
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)
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Our research plans include using biopsies to examine early stage diabetes, and even patients susceptible to, but not having developed diabetes (“prediabetes”), to ascertain the pathology and correlating it with the development of diabetic complications (including metabolic syndrome). We are seeing new clinical cases regularly with clinically obvious “small-fibre” neuropathies which only can be diagnosed with combined sensory testing and skin biopsy. These include a genetic condition (Epidermolysis bullosa). We need a confocal microscope because the more conventional light microscope is not able to deal with the complicated changes in the nerve endings. Used not only for research, skin biopsies assessed by this method will give the Pain Research Institute a unique chance of providing a patient service to the National Health Service in a way that is not available anywhere else in the NHS. Confocal microscopy would be used in conjunction with Buxton Laboratories (Neuropathology) at the Walton Centre (Dr. Atik Baborie, Consultant Neuropathologist), in a unique collaboration that is very much along the lines of the Pain Relief Foundation’s mission statement. The Equipment includes: Olympic Microscope Fitted with specific filters Additionally needed: immunostaining ingredients imaging analysis software Cost - £ 103,000.00