BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of researchers from Australia is on the verge of perfecting a new type of painkiller, one that could potentially be stronger than opioids and will not cause addiction. The South American spider’s venom inspires new pain relievers which will rely only on natural ingredients.
Researchers from the University of Queensland have discovered that a particular toxin found in the venom of a South American spider can help patients suffering from chronic pain. Furthermore, if the drug is perfected it can significantly reduce the pain sensation in patients with failed back surgery or in patients who are suffering from cancer.
The spider in question is called the Thrixopelma pruriens, also known as the Peruvian Green Velvet Tarantula. Over the years, the team noted that although the spider’s venom isn’t strong enough to kill a human, it is capable of inhibiting pain receptors.
According to their observations, when the poison enters the victim’s bloodstream, individual peptide toxin dubbed ProTX II is capable of inhibiting all pain-related electric signal by binding to the cell’s membrane.
Moreover, upon further observations, the team found out that the neuronal cell membrane is capable of attracting the peptide toxin towards the neurons, thus enhancing the pain blocking process.
Sonia Troeira Henriques, the lead researcher, also stated that the peptide toxin known as ProTX II has shown promising results in inhibiting an individual pain receptor channel in human called Nav 1.7. From previous research, we know that due to certain genetic anomalies, humans can be born with a blocked Nav 1.7 pain channel.
Thus, these patients are not capable of feeling any pain, regardless of how intense an experience is. Using this neural pathway, researchers are trying to use this blockage to their advantage. If the research results are confirmed, then this naturally occurring peptide can be used to synthesize pain relievers that can temporarily inhibit the Nav 1.7 pain channels.
Furthermore, the toxin peptide, given its pain relieving properties, can be used to devise a new generation of pain medication. The team also said that this new drugs will cause less addiction and will be more powerful than opioids such as morphine.
However, the study is far from finished. Henriques pointed out that the same toxin has been detected in other species of spiders. So, with 45.000 species of spiders out there, the team has its work cut out for them.
A team of Australian researcher discovered that they can use the venom of South American tarantula to synthesize a new generation of painkillers. If successful, these painkillers can be used to alleviate pain for those with failed back surgery, in AIDS or patients suffering from bone cancer. South American spider’s venom inspires new pain relievers, also showing that we still have much to learn from Nature.