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Spider Venom May Be The Key To Unlocking A Pain-Free Future

There is some exciting news out of Australia where University of Queensland (UoQ) researchers have identified a potential new mechanism for unlocking a pain-free future. As usual, I do urge caution when we discover potential new treatments in the pain-management arena but there is promise for this future pain-killing system.

So what does spider venom have to do with pain-management and stopping pain altogether? Let’s take a look at what has been discovered and the overall promise of tomorrow’s future.

The UoQ researchers have identified seven peptides (mini-proteins) that block the molecular pathway responsible for sending pain signals from nerves to the brain. Say that again?!

The research team, led by Professor Glenn King from UoQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said the seven peptides discovered in tarantula venoms blocked the human proteins known as voltage-gated sodium channels, which play a key role in pain transmission.

“...Previous research shows people who lack Nav1.7 channels due to a naturally-occurring genetic mutation are unable to experience pain, so blocking this channel could potentially help us to switch off pain in people with normal pain pathways.

We have nine sodium channels in our bodies and our challenge is to find peptides that can distinguish between these channels and target only Nav1.7 – something current pain relief drugs can’t do but spider venom peptides most likely can...”. (Professor Glenn King).

This discovery could have huge implications for pain-management and for the world if we can harness this potential treatment.

Just imagine being able to literally block pain from travelling along the molecular pathway that sends pain signals from nerves to the brain. The potential for use and the potential for limited side effects could be an absolute game-changer for the future of patient well-being and pain-management across the world.

Professor King also points out some alarming statistics and information related to pain-management. He notes that 1 in 5 people in the world suffer from persistent pain. That’s 20% of the world’s population, potentially up to almost 1.5 billion people suffering with persistent pain and there would also be considerable amount of those people who would be suffering from chronic pain.

In addition to the above figures, it actually costs the world more to treat all of those pain patients, than it does to treat all of the cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined globally. Just think about that for a moment. Imagine if a new treatment could, with relative ease and delivery reduce the cost of treating the combined financial amount of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. This would be an amazing breakthrough and one that would literally change the world.

Reference:

  1. http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2015/03/spider-venom-may-have-legs-future-painkiller
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