- Jo Cameron, a 71-year-old vegan woman, is immune to physical pain and mostly free from anxiety due to two unique gene mutations.
- Her ailment became evident when despite severe joint degeneration and deformation due to arthritis, she reported no pain.
- The high-speed healing of her wounds, as compared to an average person, and her overall condition offer valuable insights into new methods of pain management and wound recovery.
- Researchers observed that the gene mutations resided in her FAAH-OUT gene and a neighboring gene regulating the FAAH enzyme, which is critically involved in pain sensation, emotional regulation, and memory. She scores zero on stress and depression evaluations.
- Although discovered late in her life, there might be others carrying the same genetic mutation. Her son also shows some desensitization to pain, indicating a possible genetic inheritance.
Jo Cameron, a 71-year-old lady from Scotland, has led a unique life devoid of any physical pain. Despite undergoing experiences such as giving birth, sustaining burns and broken limbs and even undergoing surgical procedures, these ordinarily painful occurrences have caused her little to no discomfort. Her painlessness has been so profound that she has mistakenly rested her arm on a hot stove without realizing until she smelled something burning.
“As a vegan, the scent is quite unmistakable,” she remarked in a conversation with The Guardian. “There isn’t any other scenario of flesh burning in my household.”
The Rare Genetic Mutations Behind Her Phenomenon
A study investigating Jo’s life revealed that her ability to live without pain can be attributed to two unique gene mutations. More intriguingly, it’s not just physical pain that her DNA prevents her from experiencing, it also helps keep her largely free from anxiety. For instance, following an automobile mishap that resulted in her vehicle flipping upside down, she was able to help another motorist with a calm demeanor. She is always buoyant and optimistic, scoring nil on stress and depression evaluations.
“I understood that I was lighthearted and carefree, but I had no idea I was different,” she reflected. “I assumed it was only me. I didn’t realize something unusual was occurring until I turned 65.”
Realization of Her Unusual Condition
Her unusual condition began to surface when she was being medically reviewed for a hip replacement, despite her joint’s extreme degeneration on X-rays she claimed she was not in pain. Similarly, despite severe deformation of her thumbs due to arthritis, she reported no discomfort in her hands.
Jo’s wounds tend to heal faster than the average person, which could be another reflection of her genetic characteristics. Medical professionals believe that her circumstance could offer insights for new methods of managing post-operative pain or speeding up wound recovery.
Lessons from Jo’s Genotype & Its Future Implications
Research co-leader Dr. James Cox, from University College London Medicine, proclaimed, “Our findings may contribute, over time, to research in a clinical setting for post-operative pain relief and anxiety management, chronic pain, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], and wound healing, perhaps through gene therapy techniques.”
Moreover, genetic tests demonstrated that Jo possesses two notable gene mutations. One resides in what researchers termed the FAAH-OUT gene, with the other residing in a neighboring gene that controls the FAAH enzyme. Previously presumed to be dormant, the FAAH-OUT gene is now thought to be expressive of the FAAH gene, which plays a critical role in pain sensation, emotional regulation, and memory.
The findings were published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia. It has been noted by researchers that mice without the FAAH gene also show reduced pain sensation, improved wound healing, and decreased anxiety levels.
There’s a chance that Jo isn’t alone. Since her case was only identified in her later years, it’s entirely plausible that there might be others who also carry the same genetic mutation. “People with unique insensitivity to pain can be substantially valuable for medical research as we comprehend how their genetic mutations affect their pain experience; we would encourage anyone who does not experience pain to come forward,” added Dr. Cox.
The Continued Research And Its Legacy
Jo’s son also seems to be somewhat desensitized to pain, hinting at a possible genetic inheritance. Jo hopes that this research could lead to advanced breakthroughs against pain. “There could be more individuals like me out there that haven’t recognized what separates them. If they contribute to the experiments, it might transition people from synthetic painkillers to more organic pain relief methods,” she shared with The Guardian.
For further information on the subject of pain, consider the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s detailed article about pain and research aiming to combat it.