A team of researchers has discovered seven compounds extracted from spider venom that could be used for treating chronic pain conditions.
Experts say that humans feel the pain only after the nerves from the affected body area transmit the signals to the brain. The new study is trying to find out what would happen if the signals sent to the brain were in some way blocked.
Glenn King, professor at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and one of the researchers involved in the new study, explained that he is very interested in a particular compound that is known to block the Nav1.7 channels.
According to professor King, previous studies have shown that people how don’t have the Nav1.7 channels are indifferent to pain because of a genetic mutation that occurred naturally.
King explains that turning off these channels can turn off the sense of pain in people who have normal pain pathways.
There are many species of spiders that use venom for killing their prey. Their venom contains hundreds of protein molecules, of which some are known to block the activity of the nerves.
The researchers from the University of Queensland have analyzed the venom compounds produced by 206 different species of spiders to see which of these can stop the brain’s ability to register pain.
The research revealed that 40% of the tested venoms contain at least one compound that can block the pain pathway to the brain. Also, the study showed that one of the seven compounds has a chemical structure that could be used in manufacturing a very potent painkiller.
The researchers analyzed the venom from only a couple hundred species of spiders, and since there are more than 45,000 species of spiders on Earth, the team has many more to study.
Dr. Julie Kaae Klint said that there are approximately nine million peptides found in spider venom and scientists have only explored 0.01% of it, so there are many more discoveries to be made.
Image Source: snake-venom