23andMe study focuses on why we experience pain differently

Its study could lead to tailored treatments for each person.

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In this article: 23andme, gear, medicine, pain
Shutterstock / altanaka
Shutterstock / altanaka

We all experience pain differently, and what's excruciating for you might not even be worth mentioning for another. There are studies that looked into the difference in pain tolerance between individuals and some even found associations between people's pain tolerance and their gender and ethnicity. 23andMe wants to have an even deeper understanding of pain tolerance and to finally figure out what role genetics play in both temporary and chronic pain. That's why it has teamed up with German-based pharmaceutical company Grünenthal to conduct one of the largest studies of its kind.

The researchers plan to recruit 20,000 people as test subjects, all of whom will undergo a "Cold Pressor Test" that requires them to submerge their hands in cold water for three minutes. That will give the team a way to gauge each person's pain threshold. The participants also have to answer questions about drug tolerance and how sensitive they are to pain, as well as to assess how much pain they think they'll be in for a bunch of theoretical scenarios.

In addition to figuring out the role of genetics in tolerance, Emily Drabant Conley, 23andMe's VP of business development, said that results from the study may also "help advance the use of precision medicine in pain management." Hopefully, being able to tailor treatments for every person could also prevent addiction to pain killers. It has become a serious problem in recent years, affecting millions of people not just in the US, but around the globe.

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