Spider venom can cure chronic pain

Spider venom can cure chronic pain
Highlights

Scientists have identified 7 compounds in spider venom that may harbor cure for chronic pain.According to the new research, these compounds block a key step in the body\'s ability to pass pain signals to the brain. The hunt for a medicine based on just one of these compounds could open up a new class of potent painkillers.

Scientists have identified 7 compounds in spider venom that may harbor cure for chronic pain.According to the new research, these compounds block a key step in the body's ability to pass pain signals to the brain. The hunt for a medicine based on just one of these compounds could open up a new class of potent painkillers.

Team leader, Professor Glenn King from the University of Queensland, said that a compound that blocks Nav1.7 channels was of particular interest. Previous research has shown indifference to pain among people who lack Nav1.7 channels due to a naturally, occurring genetic mutation, so blocking these channels had the potential of turning off pain in people with normal pain pathways.
Part of the search for new medicines has focused on the world's 45,000 species of spiders, many of which kill their prey with venoms that contain hundreds or even thousands of protein molecules. Some of these molecules block nerve activity. A conservative estimate indicates that there are nine million spider-venom peptides, and only 0.01 percent of this vast pharmacological landscape has been explored so far, said researcher Dr Julie Kaae Klint.
The research team built a system that could rapidly analyse the compounds in spider venoms. Using their novel approach, venoms from 206 species of spider were screened, revealing that 40 percent of the venoms contained at least one compound that blocked human Nav1.7 channels. Of the seven promising compounds identified, they discovered one that was particularly potent, and also had a chemical structure that suggested it would have high levels of chemical, thermal, and biological stability, which would be essential for administering a new medicine. Together these properties make it particularly exciting as a potential painkiller.
The study is published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
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