Wolverine Woman: Jo Cameron Has Healing Powers, Feels No Pain
As kids, everyone dreams of gaining superpowers like teleportation or the ability to read minds. Many boring school lessons are avoided by daydreaming about soaring through the air and living the life of a Marvel character. Unfortunately, none of these wonderful fantasies have come true for any of us---until now. In Scotland, a 71-year-old retiree was discovered to have Wolverine-like powers of pain tolerance and regeneration.
A Jovial Wolverine Woman
No, this isn't a dubious National Enquirer story that turns out to be a woman who just takes a lot of Tylenol. Jo Cameron's condition, a genetic mutation that would make her fit right in at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, was chronicled in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, a reputable scientific publication. Amazingly, the kindly old lady has lived with this strange mutation her whole life without anyone in the scientific community catching on. She probably didn't want to bother them.
Wolverine Woman's Origin Story
Cameron's unbelievable healing powers were discovered when she went to see a doctor at age 65 about some discomfort in her hip. After doctors examined her, they found a hip ravaged by arthritis that needed immediate replacement.
While that doesn't exactly sound like a plotline fit for the pages of a comic book, what puzzled doctors was how little pain she was in. A normal person with such a hip would feel excruciating and debilitating pain. Cameron was only mildly uncomfortable.
After surgery, researchers decided more investigation was warranted. Her medical history revealed, "numerous burns and cuts without pain, often smelling her burning flesh before noticing any injury, and these wounds healed quickly with little or no residual scar." She could also eat ridiculously spicy Scotch bonnet chili peppers "without any discomfort, but a short-lasting 'pleasant glow' in her mouth."
Cameron found it all very interesting. "I had no idea until a few years ago that there was anything that unusual about how little pain I feel---I just thought it was normal," she told reporters. "Learning about it now fascinates me as much as it does anyone else."
Jo "Wolverine" Cameron
Together, the University College London and University of Oxford researchers found two unusual mutations in Cameron's genes. One mutation was in the FAAH (Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase) gene, and the other is a previously undiscovered gene now called the "Faah-Out," because sitting around a lab all day can get pretty boring. It's this new gene that apparently allows Cameron to turn off the preceding pain gene, giving her these superpowers. (The first gene is well-known to pain researchers, mostly because it's also the gene involved in the effects of cannabis. No word on whether this gives Cameron any other, um, special abilities.)
A Painless, Stress-Free Life
Alongside rapid healing and feeling little to no pain, Cameron scored a zero on tests related to anxiety and depression. She also reported that she never panics, even during a recent car accident. She did say that she's rather absentminded, liable to lose her keys or her train of thought, but that's not a bad trade-off for Wolverine-like healing.
Researchers are hopeful that Cameron's weird genes could lead to breakthroughs in medicine. "The findings point towards a novel pain killer discovery that could potentially offer post-surgical pain relief and also accelerate wound healing,” said Dr. Devjit Srivastava of Inverness's Raigmore Hospital, and Cameron is thrilled by the possibility. "[I would] be elated if any research into my own genetics could help other people who are suffering," she told reporters, sounding just like a proper superhero.
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