Pain Genetics: Pathway to Personalized Pain Management
Pain is the most common symptom reported by those seeking medical attention however there is significant individual variability in both the incidence and severity of the symptoms reported. Data from animal studies suggest that 30-75% of the variability in pain responding can be attributed to genetic variation and studies in healthy and clinical human populations support these findings. While still a developing field of science, a number of “pain genes” have been identified in which variability at the single nucleotide level have been shown to predict pain outcomes. Based on these data, the integration of genetic analysis into the clinical environment could be used by both patients and medical professionals while making treatment decisions that are individualized based on the patient’s genetic susceptibility to pain and the risk for pain associated with a given procedure or treatment. Topics to be covered include: 1) methods for identifying pain-specific candidate genes in animal and human pain models, 2)strategies for translating these findings to clinical populations and 3) potential strategies for future integration of these findings into healthcare decision-making will be discussed.