Pain has been a rich area for study and while most research has gone into studying and eliminating the high degrees of pain, it was always clear that studying the effect that the lack of pain has on the body is equally important.
And as genetics will have it, there actually exists a mutation that disables the body`s ability to feel pain. This disease is called CIP.
CIP syndrome or congenital insensitivity to pain is a rare genetic disorder that affects just a handful of people. This rare illness, means that a person cannot experience that sensation of pain.
There are generally two types of CIP patients, those insensitive to pain (meaning that they cannot sense any stimuli that might reveal that they have been injured) and those indifferent to pain (meaning that they sense a stimulus when pain should occur, but they don`t flinch or have any negative reaction to it).
As fun and superhero-like as this condition might sound, patients suffering from this disease are often exposed to trauma that can go undetected for a long time and many of them lead shorter lives because they are unable to tell when their body gets sick.
People suffering from this condition are usually diagnosed after their teeth start growing, because the young child bites his tongue, lips or fingers really bad. In some cases, they even bite off parts of their body that need to be reattached by a surgeon.
However, for a person who is already in a lot of pain, everyday, the ability to shut down the body`s alarm system doesn`t sound like such a bad idea and scientists seem willing to give this option a try.
After studying the handful of CIP patients available, researchers found, until now, 5 genes responsible for coding pain. One of them, called PRDM12 is actually responsible for modifying chromatin, acting like a switch that turns pain genes on and off.
The newly discovered genes could also help scientists create new drugs to treat CIP patients, as this condition is still highly difficult to manage. After collecting biopsies from the nerves of patients that have CIP, it was discovered that the five genes responsible for pain also cause (or are part of what causes) the lack of development of pain sensing neurons.
With all the exciting news that is coming from this project, newly developed painkiller based on this principle are sure to provide greater relief to those patients suffering from severe pain.
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