Scientists have found that spider venom has an ingredient in it that could help create new, effective and long-term painkillers. The results of this study were published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.
The scientists found that seven compounds obtained from spider venom blocked a protein that plays a crucial role in transmitting the sensation of pain to our brains. The tests that yielded these results were performed in lab-dishes.
A statement released by the scientists involved in the study said that the hunt for a new painkiller based on just one of the seven compounds is now a step closer from ending. If and when this happens, there would be a brand-new class of potent painkillers introduced.
For this study, the scientists took venom from 206 spider species and after careful analysis found seven compounds that could block a protein, dubbed Nav1.7 that transmits pain signals in humans.
The venom that spiders use to kill their prey doesn’t just kill their targets, but it also impairs proteins that transmit signals between the brain and the nerves. If a drug is made to block the Nav1.7 protein, then it would be the painkiller that millions of people around the world are waiting for.
Glenn King, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Queensland, Australia stated:
Previous research shows indifference to pain among people who lack Nav1.7 channels due to a naturally-occurring genetic mutation — so blocking these channels has the potential of turning off pain in people with normal pain pathways.
Current painkillers are very limited in their efficacy and cause a plethora of side effects. The need for a new and much more effective painkiller is huge, scientists stated.
It was revealed by the same study that chronic pain affects around 15% of the world’s population and it costs the United States around $600 billion ever year. A new and effective painkiller would not only help people manage their pain with minimal side effects, but it would also cost the US economy less dollars.
There are around 45,000 species of spider on our planet and they carry around nine million peptides. It is estimated that only 0.01% of these peptides have been explored by researchers in the drug industry, which means that the much more studies are needed in the spider venom field.
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