Five Members of Same Family Unable to Feel Pain
Imagine life without the ability to feel the sensation of pain.
Letizia Marsili and five other members of her family are affected by an unusual pain insensitivity.
Marsili pain syndrome, which is actually named after the family themselves, results in an unusually high threshold to pain, meaning that most sufferers fail to notice even severe injuries.
Letizia, her mother, her two sons, her sister and her niece all suffer from this peculiar affliction.
“From day to day we live a very normal life, perhaps better than the rest of the population, because we very rarely get unwell and we hardly feel any pain,” said Letizia.
“However, in truth, we do feel pain, the perception of pain, but this only lasts for a few seconds.”
While the condition sounds potentially beneficial, the inability to sense injury can be dangerous – especially in the case of internal injuries or broken bones that can be serious if left untreated.
Letizia herself once fractured her shoulder while skiing but only knew to visit a doctor the following day because she could feel a mild tingling sensation in her hand.
Scientists are now hoping to identify a gene mutation in the affected family members that could lead to new treatments for chronic pain sufferers.
“We have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief,” said Prof Anna Maria Aloisi.