Study: Pain Relief Could Come From Snake Venom

Could snake venom hold the key to pain relief?
One of the deadliest snakes in the world may lead researchers to a new pain medication.

The Black Mamba snake can kill a human in thirty minutes with one bite. The venom is 100% deadly if the bite is not treated immediately. It’s this poisonous venom that could help humans deal with pain in the future.

A fascination for the odd

Sylvie Diochot, an engineer at France’s Institute of Pharmocologie Moleculaire and Cellulaire was fascinated with black widow spiders and venomous snakes as a child.

“Sometimes, I had several spiders and scorpions at home, in breeding, but I have children at home, so I prefer to observe them in nature (photos), or sometimes in our laboratory,” she wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

Dicohot’s team of researchers is working to break down the Black Mamba venom.  A certain combination of proteins can reduce pain in mice and doesn’t appear to have some of the side effects of morphine.

Dicohot hopes her work leads to a new answer for people dealing pain.

“For neuropathic pain, which is associated with problems in the nervous system, and for people with very severe pain, like in very advanced cancer, morphine is not very efficient,” says Diochot’s lab chief and neurobiologist Eric Lingueglia. “For these people, we have only a few molecules that can be active on their pain.”

Another pain treatment found in nature

Other pain killers are derived from nature.

According to the CNN, a pain reliever called ziconotide was created from a venom protein found in a water snail. The proteins were broken down and experimented with for years before it was given to humans as an injection in the spine for chronic pain. This kind of research inspires Diochot and other venom specialists as they attempt to find a way to use this toxic substance to moderate pain.

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