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Erroneous activation of the pain-sensing system, as in chronic or neuropathic pain, represents a major health burden with insufficient treatment options. However, the study of genetic disorders rendering individuals completely unable to feel pain offers hope. All causes of congenital painlessness affect nociceptors, evolutionarily conserved specialist neurons able to sense all type of tissue damage. The discovery of new genes essential for sensing pain (SCN11A, PRDM12, and CLTCL1) has provided unexpected insights into the biological mechanisms that drive distinct stages of nociception. Drugs targeting two previously discovered painlessness genes, NGF and SCN9A, are currently in late-stage clinical trials; thus, characterization of these new painlessness genes has significant potential for the generation of new classes of analgesics. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Michael S Nahorski, Ya-Chun Chen, C Geoffrey Woods. New Mendelian Disorders of Painlessness. Trends in neurosciences. 2015 Nov;38(11):712-24

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PMID: 26549885

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