How much pain you feel depends on your genes: Study
Last Updated: Friday, December 21, 2012, 13:23
  

London: Endurance to pain may depend on your genes as scientists have found that genetic differences influence a person`s sensitivity to pain.

People who feel pain less intensely could have a particular set of genes that work together to regulate it, claims a study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

The study led by King`s College London adds to growing evidence that particular genes are involved in chronic pain and highlights this pathway as a potential target for more effective pain relief treatments for patients.

The study used a new method to study and compare DNA, called `exome sequencing`, to identify genetic variations relating to pain sensitivity.

"Chronic pain is a significant personal and socio-economic burden, with nearly one in five people experiencing it at some time in their lives. Current pain treatments often have either limited efficacy or side effects for many, so the possibility of a new approach to pain relief is an exciting development," lead researcher Dr Frances Williams said.

It is known that people who are most sensitive to pain encountered in everyday life are more likely to go on to develop chronic pain. To identify sensitivity levels, researchers tested 2,500 volunteers using a heating probe on the arm.

Volunteers were asked to press a button when the heat became painful for them, which allowed the scientists to determine individuals` pain thresholds. Exome sequencing was then used to analyse the DNA of 200 of the most pain sensitive and 200 of the least pain sensitive people.

"The next generation of sequencing will make it possible to explore these rare variants and will lead to a wave of new discoveries in biomedical research." Xin Jin, project manager from BGI, said.

The results showed different patterns of genetic variants in each group ? the pain sensitive people had less variation in their DNA than those who were pain insensitive.

"This study demonstrates the value of collaborative efforts between academia and industry. The genetic influence on normal pain processing in human volunteer populations will add to other approaches and help us prioritise potential new mechanisms for treating pain," Ruth McKernan, Chief Scientific Officer of Pfizer`s Research Unit in Cambridge said.

PTI


First Published: Friday, December 21, 2012, 13:23



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