A 75-year-old pensioner from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland stunned doctors after revealing she had never felt pain and fear, and a team of scientists discovered why after he did a series of tests.
The reason why the woman cannot feel pain and fear
Pensioner Jo Cameron, who lives in the Highlands, Scotland, discovered she was special at the age of 65 when she needed treatment for a hip problem that turned out to involve severe joint degeneration, although she felt no no discomfort.
The woman had hand surgery at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness a few months later and reported no pain afterwards, although the treatment is normally very painful.
Scientists later discovered that the woman has a rare genetic mutation that allows her to live her life almost pain-free and never feel anxiety or fear.
Incidentally, Jo Cameron made headlines in 2019, when scientists from University College London (UCL) announced that mutations in the FAAH-OUT gene, unknown until then, made her not feel pain, stress or fear. The same biological mechanisms are also believed to allow for faster wound healing.
Discovery, an important step in medicine
Professor James Cox from UCL Medicine, who is one of the lead authors of the study, said the discovery was an important step in medicine.
“By understanding exactly what’s happening at the molecular level, we can begin to understand the biology involved, and this opens up possibilities for drug discovery that could one day have a positive impact on patients,” he explained.
The scientists explained that they found that the FAAH-OUT mutation “reduces” the expression of the FAAH gene associated with pain, mood and memory. The team found that levels of enzyme activity in the FAAH gene were significantly reduced in Cameron’s case.
The researchers also found changes in two other genes, BDNF and ACKR3, which they believe may contribute to Cameron’s low anxiety, fear and lack of pain.
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