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Under the microscope: FAAH-OUT

This month: FAAH-OUT

I’ve never heard of ‘FAAH-OUT” what is it?

It’s the newly-coined term for microdeletion in dorsal root ganglia and brain-expressed pseudogene.

That’s not a lot clearer...

OK – it’s a mutation to a previously unidentified gene, which has led to a woman in Scotland feeling virtually no 
pain. She also experiences very little anxiety and fear.

How did they find this out?

At age 65, the woman sought treatment for an issue with her hip, which turned out to involve severe joint degeneration, despite her experiencing no pain. Then she underwent surgery on her hand, which is normally very painful, and yet she reported no pain.

What happened next?

Her pain insensitivity was diagnosed by Dr Devjit Srivastava, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine. She was then referred to pain geneticists at UCL and the University of Oxford, who conducted genetic analyses and found the mutation.

What dies this mean for her?

Cuts and burns go unnoticed (sometimes until she can smell burning flesh) and heal very quickly. She is an optimist who was given the lowest score on a common anxiety scale, and reports never panicking, even in dangerous situations, such 
as a recent traffic incident.

What are the wider implications?

The findings of the paper, which has been published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, point towards a novel pain killer discovery that could potentially offer post-surgical pain relief and also accelerate wound healing.


Image credit | iStock 

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