Common genetic variant makes some people more sensitive
One form of a common genetic variant may ratchet up pain sensitivity in people who have it, researchers report online March 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The discovery could lead to more powerful pain treatments that lack the debilitating side effects of current drugs. “We could fill our clinics many times over with people with chronic pain that we can’t help with our current medications,” says neurologist and neuroscientist Stephen Waxman of Yale University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Connecticut Hospital in West Haven.
In the new study, researchers led by clinical geneticist Geoffrey Woods of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research in the United Kingdom examined the DNA of 578 people with the painful condition osteoarthritis. Woods and his colleagues searched for genetic variations that might be linked to how much pain a patient reported feeling — a subjective measure, Woods says, bu