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Genes may influence placebo effect

Response to sham treatment depends on certain DNA details, analysis suggests

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1:46pm, April 14, 2015
sugar pills

REAL EFFECTS  Tweaks to certain genes may make some people more likely to experience the placebo effect, a new study finds.

People who get a feel-good boost from sham medical treatments may have their genes to thank. 

Researchers reviewing studies of individuals’ genetics and placebos have identified 11 genes that appear to play a role in people’s response to the sham treatments. Establishing a link between certain genes and the placebo effect is in its infancy, the researchers say online April 13 in Trends in Molecular Medicine. But if confirmed, such a connection could change the way scientists analyze clinical drug trials and how doctors treat patients, the researchers note.

“We don’t actually know how big of a role genetics play in the placebo effect,” says study coauthor Kathryn Hall, a molecular biologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Studies suggesting a link between the placebo effect and a set of specific genes &mdash

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