8 months ago
Scientists seem to have discovered the gene that controls pain, opening up the potential both to increase agony and to make it go away completely.
The key appears to be mutations in a single gene, SCN9A. Related to this, Nav1.7 channels allow messages of pain to travel from a nerve cell, Wired reported. If the gene mutates and alters how the Nav1.7 channel functions, it can cause the pain to be constant, much like the horrific feeling of continually touching a stove.
Or it can cause pain to be nonexistent, so a person could break bones without feeling a thing. (It’s worth remembering, though, that pain has a crucial function: it warns us to stop doing something before we injure ourselves.)
The trick is to find the balance: reducing pain, but not stopping the body from sharing that vital information. Having pinpointed these key components of pain, scientists now need to learn how much they can minimize it without causing additional suffering.