There are so many different treatments for pain these days and yet, most of the times, when we are confronted with a severe headache, toothache or stomachache, nothing seems to be working effectively.
Sometimes we have to take several painkillers in order to eliminate the discomfort, with terrible consequences for our stomach, liver and heart. So what is the solution?
A group of researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia believes they’ve found the answer. Apparently, they’ve discovered that the venom extracted from the scary-looking tarantulas can be used to inhibit the part of the brain that feels pain.
The scientists claim they are able to use a single peptide from the venom in order to suppress the human pain receptor located in the brain.
The venom of the Peruvian green velvet tarantula contains the peptide ProTx-II, which has the ability to interact with the brain’s pain receptor, referred to as Nav 1.7, thus inhibiting its function.
Sonia Henriques is one of the researchers involved in this study, and she explains that their team is currently trying to understand the way this toxin works, so they can further use it as a new generation of pain therapeutics.
Even though the group of scientists knew beforehand that the peptide can work as a painkiller, they did not know with which pain receptor it can interact. Now that they’ve located the exact target, they are one step closer to developing a more efficient painkiller, with potentially less side effects.
During their study, the researchers applied a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy on the peptide, which allowed them to view its 3D structure and to identify the exact pain receptor it could interact with.
According to Henriques, their results prove the fact that the cell membrane has a vital role in ProTx-II’s capacity to suppress the pain receptor.
The way the neuronal cell membranes work is they lure the peptide to the neurons, they concentrate near the pain receptors, and then they lock the peptide in order to have a maximum interaction with the pain receptor.
The researchers’ study was revealed at the Biophysical Society’s 60th Annual Meeting, and it represents the first detailed research into the properties of ProTx-II and its capacity to inhibit the brain’s pain receptor.
The scientists are now busy exploring other toxins, which could be even more powerful than the ProTx-II peptide.
Image Source: DailyMail