Sunday, October 29, 2006

GCH1 and chronic pain

This is not a gene you want your insurance company to know about:
Science & Technology at Scientific New Gene May Help Predict and Treat Chronic Pain:

... The gch1 gene turns up in human pain, too. In a study of surgical disk removal for back pain, those with one copy of a gch1 variant--30 percent of the total--reported less frequent pain after surgery, the group found. Three percent of those studied had two copies of the variant and were at even lower risk for chronic pain. Similarly, in studies of temporary pain, people were less sensitive to pinches, heat and pressure if they possessed one or two copies of the gch1 variant. The protective variant becomes more active when chemically stimulated, suggesting that it kicks in after nerve damage and inflammation, and seems to work by influencing nitric oxide synthesis, the researchers report. 'We really think we've uncovered a completely novel pathway with a novel regulator of pain,' says Woolf, who founded a biotech to find inhibitors of the GCH1 enzyme. About 30 percent of people overall have the variant gene, he notes.
I suspect this won't pan out -- too simple. Even so, it's one bit of genetic information that might be best kept secret.

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