Genetic Mutation | Woman Feels No Pain, Fear, Anxiety

A study published in the journal Brain revealed that a woman named Jo Cameron, who has a genetic mutation, feels no pain, fear, or anxiety.

A mother of two from Scotland, could be a key figure in the development of more effective painkillers, new research suggests. Jo Cameron has never felt the need for pain medication. She is one of only two known individuals worldwide who carry a unique gene that enables her to live without anxiety, fear, or physical discomfort. Now, scientists have begun unraveling the mechanisms of this rare mutation, fostering hope for the creation of improved pain relievers.

“The initial discovery of the genetic root of Jo Cameron’s unique phenotype was a eureka moment and hugely exciting, but these current findings are where things really start to get interesting,” says Professor James Cox from the University College London Medical School, the study’s senior author, in a media release. “By understanding precisely what is happening at a molecular level, we can start to understand the biology involved and that opens up possibilities for drug discovery that could one day have far-reaching positive impacts for patients.”

Living in Whitebridge, near Inverness, with her husband Jim, the 74-year-old only discovered her uniqueness a decade ago. Following surgeries on her hip and hand, her doctors noted her absence of pain, an unusual response to such procedures. Despite being diagnosed with severe joint degeneration in her hip, Cameron experienced no pain.

“I was aware that I was a happy-go-lucky person, but I didn’t realize I was different. I thought it was just me,” shares Cameron. “I didn’t know anything strange was going on until I was 65.”

Her pain insensitivity was diagnosed by Dr. Devjit Srivastava, an NHS consultant in anesthesia and pain medicine. In 2013, a team from University College London identified the gene variant, named “FAAH-OUT.” This variant deactivates the normal version and impacts other molecular pathways related to wound healing and mood.

Garry Nolan, a professor of pathology at Stanford University in California, stated that he studied the brains of fighter pilots who encounter UFOs, and found that they had white matter disease.

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