Many people dream of not feeling physical pain, but mostly everyone thought this was actually impossible. However, a team of researchers have recently unveiled the case of an Italian family that is unable to experience pain on a physical level. This is possible due to a strange condition they are suffering from, which might hold the secret to better treatments against chronic pain.
The Italian family cannot feel physical pain
Researchers decided to investigate the case of the Marsili family, and discovered their insensitivity to physical pain was caused by a strange condition. This condition is called congenital analgesia, and is genetically inherited. Therefore, these six members of the Marsili family can suffer any kind of injury without feeling pain.
These people have all the nerves which usually react to physical pain, but they don’t work properly. For instance, they can tell if an object is sharp or dull, or identify a hot or a cold beverage. However, if this drink is too hot, they can’t feel it, as it doesn’t burn their tongue.
The condition was caused by a genetic mutation
The Marsili family has some several other particularities. They can barely feel the hotness of chili peppers, are especially sensitive to some odors and normally sensitive to others, while they can sometimes experience hyperthermia. These symptoms were unique, so the researchers called this condition the Marsili syndrome, and then performed a thorough genetic analysis on it.
They developed the mapping of all the genes which coded proteins, and discovered which one was mutated. This was ZFHX2, so they decided to alter it in the genome of mice to see how this affected their sensitivity to physical pain. When they bred mice without the gene, their pain sensitivity was altered.
However, when they mutated the gene in the mice’s genome, their sensitivity to high temperatures was almost diminished. They kept looking at the influence of these genes, and discovered they also affected some other pain receptors.
The study was published in the journal Brain.