Meet the family that incredibly doesn't really feel pain

Meet the family that incredibly doesn't really feel pain

When she was just a young girl, Letizia Marsili, now 52, realised that she was very different from the rest of us. At the age of six, she pierced her chest with a nail sticking out of the wooden pole that she was climbing. However, instead of screaming in pain like the rest of us, Letizia pulled her flesh off of the nail and covered the bloody hole with her shirt.

Letizia claims that this was just one of the many incidents like this that occurred during her childhood. According to her, she couldn't feel burns or broken bones and she wasn't alone - five other family members also have the same condition.

Speaking to the BBC Letizia said: "From day to day we live a very normal life, perhaps better than the rest of the population, because we very rarely get unwell and we hardly feel any pain.

"However, in truth, we do feel pain, the perception of pain, but this only lasts for a few seconds."

Understandably, after finding out about the family, scientists have been engrossed with what makes their pain threshold so high, with them believing that it may be down to some nerves not reacting possibly.

The researchers who carried out the study are now hoping that their discovery of a gene mutation could help chronic pain sufferers in the future.

"We have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief," said Prof Anna Maria Aloisi from the University of Siena in Italy.

The syndrome has now been dubbed Marsili pain syndrome after the family, and it also affects Letizia's mother, two sons, sister and niece.

According to the mother, pain is an important alarm signal and because they only feel it briefly, the family often have issues with fractures going unnoticed, leading to inflammation in their bones.

The mother says that her 24-year-old son Ludovico, who is a keen soccer player, has encountered many issues with the syndrome.

"He rarely stays on the ground, even when he is knocked down. However, he has fragility at the ankles and he often suffers distortions, which are microfractures.

"In fact, recently X-rays have shown that he has lots of microfractures in both ankles."

Letizia says that she has previously fractured her right shoulder while skiing but continued to ski for the entire afternoon and the same thing happened when she broke a bone in her elbow playing tennis.

"Because of a lack of pain, it got so stressed that it ended up breaking," she says.

According to lead study author Dr James Cox, the Marsili family have all their nerves present, but "they're just not working how they should be".

He said: "We're working to gain a better understanding of exactly why they don't feel much pain, to see if that could help us find new pain relief treatments."

The family are believed to be the only one in the world to be affected by this faulty gene, making them invaluable to the world of science. Hopefully, through the research, they will be able to help the lives of many.