For as large a role as it plays in modern medicine -- from testing to treatment -- the mechanics of the placebo effect remain a remarkably ill-understood mystery. A team of researchers at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
and Harvard Medical School
may have just had a break in the case, though. According to a study published in the journal PLoS ONE
, the researchers have identified the first ever genetic difference between patients who respond to placeboes and patients who don't
. Finding a genetic marker for the placebo effect might impact how some diseases are treated, but its real value could be in revolutionizing the way clinical trials are conducted and new drugs are approved for use.