APR 12, 2020 10:01 PM PDT

Can Spider-Venom Alleviate Pain?

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Can spider venom offer pain relief? Apparently, yes!

According to researchers at University of Queensland, compounds isolated from tarantula venom could be used as an alternative to opioid use in targeting pain. Specifically, scientists have designed a novel tarantula venom protein that can relieve pain without addictive side-effects.

"Although opioids are effective in producing pain relief, they come with unwanted side-effects like nausea, constipation and the risk of addiction, placing a huge burden on society," says Dr. Christina Schroeder, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

The development was tested in mouse-models and can help alleviate the current burden caused by the opioid crisis

"Our study found that a mini-protein in tarantula venom from the Chinese bird spider, known as Huwentoxin-IV, binds to pain receptors in the body.

"By using a three-pronged approach in our drug design that incorporates the mini-protein, its receptor and the surrounding membrane from the spider venom, we've altered this mini-protein resulting in greater potency and specificity for specific pain receptors.

"This ensures that just the right amount of the mini-protein attaches itself to the receptor and the cell membrane surrounding the pain receptors."

Learn more about the secrets of spider venom:

"Our findings could potentially lead to an alternative method of treating pain without the side-effects and reduce many individuals' reliance on opioids for pain relief," she said.

Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
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