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Posts tagged ‘pain research’

Painless: a Q&A with Geoff Woods

Geoff Woods*

Geoff Woods (Image copyright: Geoff Woods)

How can studying rare diseases help those with more common conditions? To mark Rare Disease Day, Ellen Charman speaks to Professor Geoff Woods about how his discovery in Pakistan of a disease in which people don’t feel pain could lead to treatments for those who experience too much.

Can you tell me about this condition, congenital analgesia?

I first came across the condition when I was in Pakistan researching encephalopathy (diseases of the brain) and I was asked to see a boy who reportedly did not feel any pain. He was doing street theatre to earn money walking across hot coals and putting daggers in his arms, and then going to the local children’s hospital to get patched up. Sadly, before I got the chance to see him, he’d jumped from a roof to amuse friends and walked away from it, but later died from a bleed in the brain.

When I came back to the UK, I asked around and found two families also affected by the condition. At first, due to the common inclination towards risky and dangerous activities, I assumed that those with the condition had a degree of intellectual disability; however, I later found their development to be normal, but without the sense of pain to modulate their behaviour.  Read more