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Most people are able to feel pain and in most cases, they dislike it. There are currently both medical and non-medical ways by which one could relieve pain. However, the inability for one to feel pain is reserved for those with a rare genetic mutation called congenital insensitivity to pain; people with this condition are insensitive to pain, resulting in them getting wounds and bruises without them noticing. As a result, many would deem the feeling of pain as essential to survival. At the same time, there are also many scenarios where the inability to feel pain would be more convenient. In particular, during recovery from things like wisdom teeth removals, the inability to feel the pain and swelling of gums would certainly be helpful. Fortunately, a recent finding may have revealed the secret to painlessness.

 We may have found ways to turn off pain by targeting a certain peptide and sodium channel.

Image Source: JoKMedia

Researchers have found out how to simulate the effects of having the rare genetic mutation that allows people to not feel pain. It had been previously known that the sodium channel Nav1.7 plays an important role in signaling pain. In general, people with functional Nav1.7 feel pain while people that lack it do not. In the past, Nav1.7 blockers have been developed in attempt to block the sensation of pain but they have not been nearly as effective. The researchers in this study used transgenic mice, which involve the insertion of foreign genetic information into the mouse genome, to mimic the specific mutation of interest in humans. They found that the lack of Nav1.7 was associated with increased levels of opioid peptides. Furthermore, researchers tested whether opioids played a significant role in the ability to feel pain by introducing opioid blockers to the mice that had nonfunctional Nav1.7; the result was that the mice were able to feel pain after the treatment. As a result, the researchers believe that a combination of opioid dosages and Nav1.7 blockers would effectively grant an individual the ability to not feel pain.

The results of this study is particularly important for the people that suffer from chronic pain. Although the ability to feel pain may be useful for preventing further injury, when the severity of the pain reaches levels that are unbearable, the ability to feel pain then will likely negatively affect one’s ability to live.

Feature Image Source: pain by Britt-Knee

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