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The punch the superhero takes without moving an inch and the stronger one he/she gives it back to the villain is what makes us glued to the big screen. But, what if someone tells you that there are such people in real-life as well?

Well, there's a whole family in Italy who can take a punch literally without feeling anything. Yes, much like Marvel and DC heroes, this family has the superpower of not feeling any physical pain.

Letizia Marsili, 52, first realised that she was different from others when she was very young. She had a high threshold for pain -- she doesn't feel burns or notice broken bones.

And, she is not the only one, five of her other family members are also affected by the condition.

Letizia told the BBC: "From day to day we live a very normal life, perhaps better than the rest of the population, because we very rarely get unwell and we hardly feel any pain."

Letizia added: "However, in truth, we do feel pain, the perception of pain, but this only lasts for a few seconds."

Members of the Italian family have had their DNA analysed to locate the genetic basis of their condition. The scientists who conducted the study identified a mysterious genetic mutation that effectively nullifies the sensation of pain and enables people with the rare anomaly to bear the extreme physical discomfort effortlessly.

Letizia's mother, two sons, sister and niece all show signs of being affected by the syndrome that is named after the family - Marsili pain syndrome.

"We have spent several years trying to identify the gene that is the cause of this," molecular biologist James Cox from University College London told The Independent.

As this could help the scientists to find new treatments for chronic pain that mimic the unusual gift the family has.

According to a New Scientist report, Cox explained: "Sometimes they feel pain in the initial break but it goes away very quickly."

James Cox added: "For example, [52-year-old] Letizia broke her shoulder while skiing, but then kept skiing for the rest of the day and drove home. She didn't get it checked out until the next day."

The research team used DNA from blood samples and found a mutation in a gene called ZFHX2.

Then they conducted two studies in mice which had been bred without this gene and found that the pain thresholds of the mice had been altered.

When the researchers bred a new line of mice with the relevant mutation, they found they were insensitive to high temperatures.

"By identifying this mutation and clarifying that it contributes to the family's pain insensitivity, we have opened up a whole new route to drug discovery for pain relief," said co-author Professor Anna Maria Aloisi of the University of Siena.

The results of the study were published in the journal Brain.