Mutation is a very gradual process. It takes thousands of years for a species to develop genes that have the ability to even slightly change them. 


But sometimes it skips ahead. And such is the case with Jo Cameron, a 71-year-old woman who does not feel any pain. 

According to The Guardian, she has a mutation in a previously unknown gene that scientists believe must play a major role in pain signalling, mood and memory.


She sometimes burns herself while cooking but only finds out about it from the smell of her own burning flesh. 


Cameron, a former teacher has been through broken limbs, cuts and burns, even childbirth and numerous surgical procedures with little or no need for any pain relief medication. 

I’m vegan, so the smell is pretty obvious… There’s no other burning flesh going on in the house.
PML Daily

And not only that, she also never panics. 

When a van driver ran her off the road a few years ago, she climbed out of her car and went to comfort the young lad who had cut across her. She noticed her bruises much later. 


Speaking to reporters, she says

I knew that I was happy-go-lucky, but it didn’t dawn on me that I was different… I thought it was just me. I didn’t know anything strange was going on until I was 65.

At the age of 65, she needed to have her hip replaced. Well, because she doesn’t feel any pain, she only found out about her bad hip when it completely degenerated. 

She had the operation and then took two paracetamols the next morning for the pain. 

Südtirol News

Researchers have delved into Cameron’s DNA to see what makes her so unusual. 

There were two notable mutations. Together, they suppress pain and anxiety, while boosting happiness and forgetfulness.


Oh, and BTW, her mutation helps her heal really quickly. 


James Cox, a researcher on the study, told The Guardian that in extreme cases, mutations can lead people to feel no pain whatsoever. 

This patient doesn’t have a complete loss of pain sensitivity, but we do see that. When they are young, they typically bite off parts of the tongue, and parts of their fingers because they haven’t learned that it’s dangerous.

Cox also believes that Cameron’s DNA could be a mine of knowledge. But they needed to understand how her genes work. 

Once we understand how the new gene works, we can think about gene therapies that mimic the effects we see in her. There are millions of people living in pain and we definitely need new analgesics. Patients like this can give us real insights into the pain system.
Sky News

Well, Cameron is special, for better or worse. And the research on her DNA could help millions who suffer everyday. So here’s hoping!