▲Jo Cameron @Image copyright PETER JOLLY NORTHPIX
The topic might shock you for a moment but don’t worry, we are discussing an exception here. In fact, an exception that is as rare as just known to two people in the whole world! Well, even then it is quite shocking to discover that a person can live his/her whole life without feeling pain. Hence, in order to understand it better, let’s dig a little deeper into why and how it may happen:
The case study which was the reason behind this curiosity in scientists and which became the basis of their research was of Jo Cameron, a Scottish lady who is currently 71 years old and discovered this rarity with her body only at the age of 65. It is not as if she never got injured or something, just that she never felt the pain. Additionally, she was also almost always an optimist about situations and never really felt anxiety or stress. The reason identified by the doctors was a newly discovered gene mutation that scientists are still working on for further discoveries.
While it might feel that having this kind of gene mutation would have been a blessing, it is not really a bed full of roses. Everything comes with its own bag of disadvantages and so was the case with Cameron. While she thought that she was just a healthy person all her life, she only realized that there was a problem in her body when her legs completely stopped functioning and she had to go through an operation. The doctors were astonished to see how she didn’t felt much pain in an operation which is known for pain!
Dr. Devjit who was dealing with her case explained how she refused to take anesthesia because she didn’t felt the need. He gave her the dose regardless but was astounded to find out how she didn’t take any painkillers.
The gene mutation was further studied in order to find out exactly what was it in her gene that worked differently. It was identified that there were two major genes that were the result of all these circumstances. The first one is called the FAAH gene which is well-known to pain researchers. It is an acid amide hydrolase that is involved in feeling pain, mood and protecting memory. The other is FAAH-OUT gene, blocks the activity of FAAH. With less FAAH activity, Cameron also experiences very little anxiety or fear and more resistance to feeling pain.
FAAH-OUT was previously assumed to be a non-functional gene but researchers say that it may offer a novel painkiller. Scientists are now working towards introducing painkillers that can help in post-operation pain with the help of this new discovery.