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Award-winning reporter Erika Hayasaki tells an inspiring story of human suffering and scientific triumph. She talks to people with genetic abnormalities that skew their responses to pain. Their lives are difficult, but their contribution to science has been great. She profiles the various teams around the world researching medications that will target the pain gene. With all this competition, it’s just a matter of time before one of them finds a viable solution. getAbstract recommends Hayasaki’s article to anyone who would like a safe alternative to conventional painkillers.

About the Author

Erika Hayasaki is an associate professor of literary journalism at the University of California, Irvine and author of The Death Class: A True Story About Life.



More than 25 million adults in the United States report being in pain at least some of the time. Almost two million Americans are addicted to painkillers. Approximately 33,000 died from opioid overdoses in 2015 alone – equal to the number of deaths from car accidents and guns. Strong stimuli trigger nerve receptors on the skin, creating electric impulses. If sufficiently powerful, they transmit along neurons via sodium channels that let sodium ions move across cell membranes. Less powerful impulses don’t trigger a pain response, but stronger impulses reach the brain via ...

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