You probably wince and scream with a raging cut or a scorching burn, but not everyone does. And the consequences of this might be a solution to the opioid crisis.
Imagine being able to jump from a rooftop to the ground and to slice through your arm with knife, and be totally comfortable. No, it’s not the stuff of fiction but rather what about one hundred or so humans on the planet holding a strange genetic mutation can do.
What’s it all about? The people who never feel pain are missing something called the Nav1.7 sodium channel in their body.
A genetic mutation canceled it out, and as a result they never feel any physical discomfort, whatsoever.
Congenital insensitivity to pain, or CIP as it’s called, is so effective that those who suffer from it can actually have open-heart surgery without any anesthetic.
Feeling Like a Superhero
Sure, on the surface it seems like a great trait to go through life with: the ability to feel invincible.
But the terrible truth is actually the opposite. Children who suffer from this condition often don’t even reach adulthood.
A report on BBC.com tells of a Pakistani youth who could walk on coals and perform other daring feats without displaying any indications of feeling pain. He died as a teenager, jumping from a rooftop.
The “freedom” to perform daredevil stunts and games often ends up killing these kids, who don’t have their mind wired to tell them what’s properly dangerous.
What can the general public do to help? Unfortunately, not much at the moment.
But as it turns out, those who suffer from CIP are actually doing something to help the rest of us.
CIP victims are participating in studies examining their condition, with the hopes of helping science develop new drugs to combat chronic pain.
New Pain Killers
Of course, they may be hopeful that researchers will find a cure for themselves along the way but for the moment, it’s a rather selfless act that could potentially help millions.
It’s well known that the pain treatment industry is currently dominated by opioid-based medicines. Often, they can cause more harm than help. Being able to move away from this model and to replace these medicines with a new cure would be groundbreaking.
“Drugs which inhibit the Nav1.7 channel could be a new way of treating chronic syndromes such as inflammatory pain, neuropathic pain, lower back pain and osteoarthritis,” Robin Sherrington, senior vice-president of business and corporate development at Xenon, is quoted by BBC.com. “And because all sensory functions remain normal in CIP patients apart from the lack of pain, it offers the prospect of minimal side effects.”
It could be the next big thing in the vast world of painkillers. To learn more about CIP and the new research around pain treatments, click here.
(photo credits: www.pixabay.com)