One of the world's most venomous snakes, the black mamba, could hold the key to developing new painkillers.
The black mamba is the longest venomous snake in Africa and is known for its aggression.
scientists discovered that compounds from the snake's venom provided
pain relief as strong as morphine, but without the adverse effects, when
injected into mice.The findings could lead to the development of
drugs that mimic the snake venom protein to alleviate pain, said
Australian venom expert Professor Richard Lewis from the University of
Queensland.Prof Lewis studies the toxin of the marine cone snail, which has been developed into an analgesic, Prialt.
said the French study showed the venom compounds, when injected into
mice, were unique because they acted on two pain pathways - the
peripheral and central nervous systems.The research has also revealed another biological pathway to target pain, known as acid-sensing ion channels.
"These targets could allow drug companies to develop small molecule mimics of this mamba toxin," he told AAP.
Prof Lewis said it would be interesting to see how many different types of pain the new approach could potentially treat.
molecular biologist Professor Peter McIntyre said it was important to
emphasise that new drugs related to the discovery were a long way from
being developed.But he said the research was a proof of principle of how it could be done.
could be through finding another way to block the particular pain
pathway identified, or modifying the toxin itself for use as a
therapeutic, he said.The research was published in the journal Nature.
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