The New Yorker Reports-Dept of Science “World Without Pain” “Does hurting make us human?” The New Yorker January 13, 2020 pp18-24
“Joanne Cameron experiences [pain] mostly as ‘an abstract thing’”. “Cameron is entirely insensitive to physical pain”. Cameron and possibly her father, who died suddenly without warning of a brain hemorrhage, and few hundred others are classified as having “congenital insensitivity to pain”. Not being able to sense pain, due to faulty nerves, not surprisingly can lead to injury, severe illness and death. Geneticists are studying Cameron, Cameron’s family and other families to better understand the underlying mechanisms and possibly leverage the findings for more effective pain remedies. Using DNA analysis, researchers identified a recessive gene on one of Joanne's inherited-chromosomes and a deletion including the same gene on her other inherited-chromosome. In combination, this DNA makeup (her genotype) likely explains her inability to sense pain (her phenotype). Because she can't breakdown injury-induced marijuana-like molecules, she does not sense pain. For the same reason, her nominal circulating levels are elevated contributing to her very optimistic and worry-free demeanor. Read the article for more detail.