Designing Out Pain
2012 10 01

By Greg Mayhall, MD, and Rodney E. Shackelford, DO, Ph.D. | HPlusMagazine.com

Our present understanding of the neuromolecular biology underlying pain perception should allow several aspects of pain treatment to be radically improved in the near future. For example, better analgesics could be created based on an improved understanding of how pain perception arises and how it travels within the nervous system. The genetic variations underlying pain perception can be genetically analyzed and applied directly to patient care.

Instead of an analgesic “hit and miss” approach, molecular analysis of the variants in an individual’s pain-associated genes would allow for a far more accurate assessment of the treatments needed to safe and effective pain treatment (i.e., “pain genotyping”). The technology to do this already exists and is commonly applied in other molecular pathologic tests.

Since the neuromolecular biology underlying pain perception appears to be highly conserved in all vertebrates, the study of pain perception-associated gene activities sheds light on animal pain perception. The present data strongly supports that animals perceive pain as well, or nearly as well as do humans. This data has important implications for how we treat animals.

It might be possible to alter the human genome to eliminate or reduce pain signals, to help individuals with chronic pain syndromes, or those who literally have a painful genetic inheritance, without the need of constant and sometimes dangerous pharmacologic interventions. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated a gene therapy for neuropathic pain in an animal model as one example.
As the philosopher David Pearce has suggested, should the human race one day begin to ‘write its own genome”, then the genes regulating pain perception could be altered to allow a lessening of the miserable, often horrendous aspects of pain perception, while still maintaining its usefulness in avoiding physical damage. We could simply design pain out of the human experience.

Pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage1” Physical pain perception (nociception) is adaptive and protects complex organisms from tissue damage while inducing tissue protective and healing promoting behaviors.

Pain responses are found in all complex organisms, including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Although conscious pain perception cannot currently be measured in animals, adverse behavioral changes following painful events (reduced with analgesia), demonstrate that animals almost certainly perceive pain. Additionally, as pain perception is mediated by neocortical function (found in all vertebrates), and pain-inducing stimuli elicits very similar global vertebrate brain gene expression pattern changes, there is little reason based on behavioral, neuroanatomic, or molecular studies to doubt that most animals experience pain – for mammals, probably very similar to human pain perception.

Medically, untreated pain is a major problem in the US, with 50% of hospitalized patients being undertreated for pain, and 56% and 82% of individuals with cancer and HIV being similarly undertreated, respectively. See for example http://www.aapainmanage.org/literature/Articles/PainAnEpidemic.pdf.

However, over the past ten years, our understanding of the genetics underlying pain perception has vastly increased. Presently some three hundred-gene products have been identified which either modulate, or cause severe gains or losses in pain perception abilities. Based on identical human twin studies with comparison to data from mice, there are about twenty-four genes that carry common variations that significantly contribute to pain perception.


[...]


Read the full article at: hplusmagazine.com





Related Articles
"The Pain Chronicles": The science of pain
Chronic pain is determined by emotions, scientists believe
Pain, No Gain? Operant Conditioning Pain Patch
RedIceRadio - Bruce Lipton - The Biology of Belief


Latest News from our Front Page

The Aeon of Horus is Ending and the Elites are Nervous as their Icons are Dying
2014 04 18
I predict there is going to be a huge resurgence of interest in European indigenous spiritual traditions from Norse to Celtic/Gaelic to Slavic and so on. Millions of Europeans are going to realise that we are the victims of Christianity and New Age garbage. Their bastardised Kabbalah, the psychic force used by Crowley and the elites to cement his Aeon ...
Easter - Christian or Pagan?
2014 04 18
From: truthbeknown.com Contrary to popular belief, Easter does not represent the "historical" crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel tale reflects the annual "crossification" of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), at which time the sun is "resurrected," as the day begins to become longer than the night. Rather than being a "Christian" holiday, Easter celebrations date back ...
Man-Made Blood Might Be Used in Transfusions by 2016
2014 04 18
Researchers in the U.K. have created the first man-made red blood cells of high enough quality to be introduced into the human body The premise of the HBO show and book series True Blood revolves around a technological breakthrough: scientists figure out how to synthesize artificial human blood, which, as an ample new source of non-human food, allows vampires to "come ...
The Trials of the Cherokee Were Reflected In Their Skulls
2014 04 18
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee have found that environmental stressors – from the Trail of Tears to the Civil War – led to significant changes in the shape of skulls in the eastern and western bands of the Cherokee people. The findings highlight the role of environmental factors in shaping our physical characteristics. ...
Our Fears May Be Shaped by Ancestral Trauma
2014 04 18
Last December, an unsettling Nature Neuroscience study found that mice who were taught to associate the smell of cherry blossoms with pain produced offspring who feared the smell of cherry blossoms, even if they had never been exposed to it before. We knew that the process was epigenetic—that it was not hard-wired in the permanent genetic structure of the mouse—but ...
More News »