Certain genetically modified mice cannot feel any pain. Such a painless nature however is more of a curse than a blessing.
Scientists at UCL have discovered the path to a painless existence, at least in rodents that is. It is a well-known fact that people who have a rare genetic fault are unable to feel any suffering on a physical level.
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However, this effect could not be produced on its own no matter how many analgesics were used. Mice that had the genetic malfunction showed this painless state too. This could lend clues as to the nature of an Epicurean life without any painful stimuli.
There are various channels and pain gates that run along the length and breadth of the nervous system. They relay signals along their paths thus causing sensations of pain and pleasure.
About a decade ago, it was shown that the sodium channel Nav1.7 played a crucial role in pain responses. Those individuals who were born with a dysfunctional Nav1.7 pathway didn’t feel pain at all. Drugs were developed to counter this condition but they hardly had much of an effect at all.
The new study, published in Nature Communications, also points out the fact that people and mice that are born without a Nav1.7 pathway that works also tend to produce higher levels of opioid peptides that reduced any pain signals.
In order to test whether opioids were necessary for painlessness, naloxene, an opioid blocker was administered to mice. The mice started feeling pain. A middle aged woman who felt no pain was also given the drug.
She began feeling sensations of pain for the first time in her life. Thus after a long time, the pathway that renders pain a viable process has been discovered. And the main factor responsible for the ensuing numbless state turned out to be opioids.
Thus by administering opioid peptides and blocking the Nav1.7 pathway, pain could be considerably dulled. And so the conditions of painlessness which is a rare disorder could be replicated in normal men and women.
Sodium channel blockers are available alright but they have nasty side effects. Meanwhile, opioids such as morphine have pain-numbing results in the human body. It all basically has to do with neurotransmitters and the electrical signal pathways in the body.
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And while this approach is alright in those who feel a tremendous amount of pain, in normal individuals there is no need of inducing painlessness. That is because a painless existence also leads to accidents at every corner due to the person not feeling any warning signs of pain.