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Cameron is the only person in the world known to have two gene mutations, meaning she feels little pain and has powerful healing abilities. It took researchers 10 years to finally discover what the mutations did. In 2013, the then 65-year-old had routine hand surgery that led to the discovery of a genetic mutation that explained her insensitivity to pain.
Jo Cameron is the only person in the world known to have two gene mutations, meaning she feels little pain and has powerful healing abilities.
It took researchers 10 years to finally discover what the mutations did. In 2013, the then 65-year-old had routine hand surgery that led to the discovery of a genetic mutation that explained her insensitivity to pain.
She told the BBC: “I had surgery for arthritis in my hand and I was talking to the anesthetist and he said it was going to be a very, very painful operation and you’re going to be in a lot of pain afterwards.”
I said, “I won’t, I don’t feel the pain.” He came to me after the operation and he said, “You didn’t take medicine for the pain. It’s very unusual.”
When her anesthesiologist Dejitter. Dr Devjit Srivastava saw she wasn’t feeling anything and referred her to pain geneticists at UCL and Oxford. A team of genetics experts collected tissue and blood samples to look at her DNA.
After six years of research, they discovered that a previously unknown mutation in the FAAH-OUT gene gave Ms Cameron, who lives near Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands, no pain, stress or fear.
What is the FAAH-OUT gene mutation?
The FAAH-OUT gene is one member of a group of genes that have long been considered “junk DNA.” But scientists are now understanding the importance of these genes in processes such as reproductive ability, aging and disease.
In this case, the researchers have been able to identify which genes are associated with a lack of pain, which genes eliminate feelings of anxiety and depression, and which genes help Ms. Joe heal quickly.
They found that the FAAH-OUT mutation “turns off” the expression of the FAAH gene, which is involved in pain, mood and memory. The mutation also reduces the production of the FAAH enzyme.
Ms. Qiao also has a mutation in the FAAH gene, which reduces the activity of the enzyme. The enzyme is a biocatalyst that makes a protein. It normally breaks down a “happiness” molecule called an endocannabinoid (anandamide) in humans, but it didn’t work properly for Ms. Joe.
Scientists also discovered that Ms. Qiao had two mutations that not only made her feel less pain, but were also associated with healing.
“They’re connected in some ways, and it’s amazing that her cells heal 20 to 30 percent faster than the average person, so you can imagine the healthy potential of wound healing,” said Ander, an associate professor at University College London. strong. Andrei Okorokov said. He is the senior co-author of the study, published in the neuroscience journal Brain.
“The mutation deletes part of the FAAH-OUT gene and turns it off. Ms. Qiao also has a mutation in the FAAH gene. So far, we don’t know anyone else in the world who has both.”
Why do we need to feel pain?
Pain is essential to protect us from destructive and life-threatening events. The consequences of not feeling pain can be serious.
For Ms. Qiao, who often burns her arms in the oven, she has to rely on the smell of burnt flesh to know her skin has been injured.
“We’ve worked with other patients who also don’t feel pain because they have mutations in other genes, and sometimes they’re badly injured. So it’s a good thing to feel pain, but sometimes the pain becomes chronic and not It doesn’t work any more,” said Professor James Cox, an expert in human pain genetics at University College London and author of the study.
Growing up, Ms. Jo didn’t know she was different. She never took any pain medication.
“I don’t think it’s unusual because that’s who I am. I have kids, I have a husband of many years and they just think I have tremendous pain tolerance,” she said.
The genetic mutation also means she processes unpleasant feelings much faster.
“When something nasty happens, my emotions are the same as anyone else’s. I react immediately. But then, I think there must be something I can do, and I start thinking about strategies to get out of the situation,” she said.
Professor Cox hopes the findings will lead to research into new drugs to help with pain management, wound healing and mental health.
He said: “Chronic pain is the most prevalent health condition of our time, and we urgently need new pain relievers. By understanding how FAAH-OUT works at the molecular level, we hope to be able to develop new and better pain relievers. “
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Responsible editor: Zhu Jiayi
Draft editor: Ding Zhaojiu
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