(May 25, 2015) A gene essential to the production of pain-sensing neurons in humans has been identified by an international team of researchers co-led by the University of Cambridge. The discovery, reported today in the journal Nature Genetics, could have implications for the development of new methods of pain relief.
Pain perception is an evolutionarily-conserved warning mechanism that alerts us to dangers in the environment and to potential tissue damage. However, rare individuals – around one in a million people in the UK – are born unable to feel pain. These people accumulate numerous self-inflicted injuries, often leading to reduced lifespan.