The discovery of a rare gene mutation that results in a complete inability to sense pain could lead to the development of novel painkillers, according to new findings (Cox J et al. Nature. 2006;444:894-898).
Researchers in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan studied 3 related families originating in northern Pakistan after learning of one family member, a boy who performed street theater by walking on burning coals and piercing his arms with knives. Although they were unable to examine the boy, who died on his 14th birthday after jumping off a roof, they turned up 6 related members from the boy's clan, aged 6 to 14 years, who also had never felt any pain. The affected individuals had no apparent deficits in other sensory functions.
Stephenson J. Pain-Related Gene. JAMA. 2007;297(3):254. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.254-a