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Rare Genetic Mutation Makes Woman Virtually Immune to Pain, Anxiety and Stress

Jo Cameron, 71-year-old woman from Scotland, is one of only two people in the world known to have a rare genetic mutation that makes them virtually immune to pain.

Interestingly, Cameron only learned about her “superpower” at age 65, when doctors found that she didn’t need any painkillers after a undergoing a serious operation on her hand. She had been warned to expect severe pain after the surgery, but she didn’t feel any at all, so her anaesthetist referred her to pain geneticists at University College London and Oxford University, where tests showed that she had a mutation in a previously unknown gene, which scientists now believe plays a major role in pain signalling, mood and memory.

The story of how Jo ended up having surgery on her hand is quite interesting. Every now and then, her hip would give way, making her walk lop-sided, but because she never reported any pain, doctors didn’t even bother doing an x-ray scan of her hip. When someone finally decided to investigate the problem more thoroughly, they discovered massive joint deterioration that for the average person would have been impossible to live with without painkillers. Cameron had her hip replaced and managed the pain with just two paracetamol tablets a day. While she was recuperating in the hospital, doctors noticed that her thumbs were deformed by osteoarthritis and scheduled her for double hand surgery, a procedure that many experts describe as excruciating. Yet Jo didn’t feel any pain at all.

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Chinese Scientist Claims to Have Created the World’s First Genetically Edited Babies

Chinese researcher He Jiankui recently shocked the entire world after revealing that he had altered the DNA of twin girl before birth, to make them immune to the HIV virus and AIDS. If his claims prove to be true, these twins would be the world’s first genetically-edited babies.

Professor He revealed his controversial genetic editing work earlier this week. In a video posted on YouTube, he claims to have used gene-editing tools to eliminate a gene called CCR5 in order to make a pair of twin girls, called Lulu and Nana, resistant to the HIV virus, should they ever come in contact with it. Speaking at a genome summit in Hong Kong, on Wednesday, the Chinese scientist defended his work and talked about the stigma attached to HIV/Aids in China. However, many of his peers believe that He Jiankui has gone too far, warning that meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause long-term problems not only for the individual, but entire future generations.

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The Strange Case of a Family That Doesn’t Feel Pain

An entire Italian family suffer from a strange genetic mutation that makes them almost completely immune to pain. The condition is so rare that scientists have named it ‘The Marsili Syndrome’, after the family.

Letizia Marsili, 52, became aware of her immunity to pain in early childhood when she didn’t experience any particular sensation from burns or fractures. Five other members of her family, spanning at least three generations, also share this rare genetic anomaly that makes impervious to pain situations where an average person would require an anesthetic. The Marsilis have become the focus of researchers hoping to discover how their mutation works, in the hopes of developing new ways to treat pain.

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