“Oh gosh. I haven’t actually done the count yet. But somewhere probably around 70 or 80.”
That’s Steven Pete. Steven Pete doesn’t feel pain.
“Have you ever been out in the bitter, bitter cold, where your feet were ice? Almost frostbite? Then you warm them up and it burns? That burning sensation: That is what it feels like all the time.”
That’s Pam Costa. Pam Costa lives a life of constant pain.
Costa and Pete have never met. Their daily negotiations with the world could not be more different. Yet scientists have uncovered a genetic link that binds their mirror-image conditions together, and pharmaceutical researchers are now deep into clinical trials on a new type of drug that seeks to mimic Pete’s condition to treat Costa and others living with chronic pain. Such a drug would not merely dull inflammation the way ibuprofen does or alter our neurochemistry the way opioids do: It would block the transmission of pain signals from cell to cell without ruinous side effects on the brain or body.
Erika Hayasaki in Wired.