Tags: Chronic Pain | spider | venom | painkiller | nonaddictive

Spider Venom Shows Promise as Nonaddictive Painkiller

Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 01:38 PM


If you want to pick apples, you go to an apple orchard. If you want to study the possible pain-killing effects of venom, you go to Australia, home of some of the most venomous creatures on the planet.

"Australia is the venom land, said Dr. Jennifer Smith, a research officer at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland. "We have a plethora of really good venomous animals: You name it we’ve got it, pretty much," she told the Wall Street Journal.

And the Aussies have in fact made an important new discovery: Certain kinds of spider venom block the pathway that sends signals of pain from the nerves to the brain. One study of 205 spider species found that 40 percent of them blocked the pain channels.

The importance of the discovery? "Spider venom acts in a different way to standard painkiller," said Smith, a way that blocks a specific channel, and a way that promises to be non-addictive.

Traditional painkillers, like morphine, on the other hand, block widespread receptors and can be highly addictive, leading to widespread abuse of the drugs that we've seen in recent years.

Australia isn't the only possible source of natural painkillers in spider venom. A Yale study found that the venom of the Peruvian green velvet tarantula blocked nerve cells that transmit pain.

"The likelihood is that within the vast diversity of spider toxins we will find others that are active against other channels important for pain," senior author Michael Nitabach, associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology and of genetics, said in a Yale press release.

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If you want to pick apples, you go to an apple orchard. If you want to study the possible pain-killing effects of venom, you go to Australia, home of some of the most venomous creatures on the planet. Australia is the venom land, said Dr. Jennifer Smith, a research officer...
spider, venom, painkiller, nonaddictive
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2015-38-21
Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 01:38 PM
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