Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black Mamba Venom is "Better Painkiller" Than Morphine

News Brief by Jeremy Marcus

The black mamba is one of the deadliest snakes in the world. It uses neurotoxic venom to paralyze and kill its prey.  New research shows that the venom also contains a class of proteins known as mambalgins which act as painkillers.  In experiments on mice, researchers showed that these proteins have an analgesic effect as strong as that of morphine.  By acting through opiate receptors, morphine causes many unwanted side effects.  Mambalgins appear to relieve pain by inhibiting stimulation of acid-sensing ion channels, key parts of the pain pathway.  Acting in this manner should produce fewer side effects compared to the use of morphine.  Similarities between mouse and human pain pathways hint at the feasibility of mambalgin use in human patients.  Indeed, preliminary experiments indicate similar chemical effects in human cells as in mice.  However, as mambalgin administration has thus far required injections directly into the spine, further development is required prior to human use.

Gallagher, James. " Black mamba venom is 'better painkiller' than morphine." BBC World News. BBC, 3 Oct 2012. Web.
blog comments powered by Disqus

TuftScope: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Health, Ethics, and Policy

TuftScope is a student journal published biannually in conjunction with Tufts University since 2001. Funding is provided by the Tufts Community Union Senate. The opinions expressed on this weblog are solely those of the authors. The staff reserves the right to edit blog postings for clarity and to remove nonfunctional links.

  © Free Blogger Templates Autumn Leaves by 2008

Back to TOP