Scientists from Harvard Medical School recently published a persuasive summary of evidence behind a revolutionary idea: that the placebo effect has genetic origins.
Although their work is preliminary, it raises some fascinating questions.
Might people with a genetic predisposition to larger placebo effects skew the results of small clinical studies if they're unevenly allocated to one or another of the study groups?
Should clinical trials stratify their analyses by placebo genetics?
The most fascinating use of this observation, I think, could be the development of novel therapeutics that leverage the mechanisms underlying the placebo effect. Forget the underlying pathophysiology - perhaps we could just focus on wellbeing.