23andMe Is Making Its First Foray into At-Home Research, to Study Pain - MIT Technology Review
Une expérience médicale menée at home par les usagers de 23andMe. Une certaine conception de la médecine, dont l’entreprise est familière.
“It was uncomfortable and slightly painful, but nothing like wearing wet gloves and shoveling snow for an hour at 10 below zero,” says Pardy, who lives in northwest Vermont. Most people can stand to keep their hands in near-freezing water for at least 100 seconds, according to 23andMe.
The experiment Pardy did is known as a cold pressor test, and it’s one of many used to gauge a person’s tolerance to pain. It’s part of a new study 23andMe announced earlier this month to study the genetic links of pain tolerance, and it represents the company’s first foray into at-home research.
23andMe has previously launched studies on medical conditions like depression, fertility problems, and irritable bowel disease, using surveys to ask participants about things like their health history, lifestyle, and diet (see “23andMe Pulls Off Massive Crowdsourced Depression Study”). The new study also includes two surveys about pain tolerance and pain history, but this is the first time the company has asked people to do an experiment on their own and report the results.
Carrie Northover, director of research services for 23andMe, says the goal of the study is to “understand genetic factors associated with experiencing pain and response to medications that help alleviate pain.” Previous research has suggested that multiple genetic factors are at play in chronic pain, and that certain groups of people report pain more often than others.
Ajay Wasan, vice chair for pain medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says the cold pressor test is only one way to measure pain. There are a range of other tests, including ones that measure a person’s tolerance to heat, pin pricks, and pressure.
“The problem is no one single experimental pain test maps really well to overall pain sensitivity and doesn’t have high correlation to someone’s clinical chronic pain or their response to treatment,” he says.