Gene: Pain

Source: Gene secrets of the boys who couldn’t feel any pain, 14-12-2006

The discovery of a single gene that can switch painful stimuli on and off without affecting other body systems raises the prospect of a new class of analgesics with none of the side-effects of conventional painkilling drugs. Neuroscientists said that the findings could ultimately prove as important as the discovery of the receptor for morphine.

The gene, SCN9A, is responsible for making a protein called a voltage-gated sodium channel, which seems essential to pain perception.

The discovery, by a team led by Geoffrey Woods, of the University of Cambridge, is particularly exciting because the abnormality appears to have no adverse effects in the children with the mutation, apart from the dangers that come with pain insensitivity.

The article in Journal Nature.

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