Chronic and persistent pain is believed to affect nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide. Traditional pain relief medications have historically fallen into one of four categories; acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and opioids. All of these drugs present negative long-term side effects ranging from liver damage to addiction to weakening of the skeletal structure and immune system.
Scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia believe that the next generation of medications to combat chronic pain may come from spider venom. “I cannot think of anything that’s as chemically complex in nature as spider venom,” said Institute of Molecular Bioscience researcher Glenn King. “They are the most complex of any of the venomous animals.”
The sensation of pain stems from nerves in an affected area sending signals to the brain through what is called the pain pathway. “A compound that blocks Nav1.7 channels is of particular interest for us. Previous research shows indifference to pain among people who lack Nav1.7 channels due to a naturally-occurring genetic mutation – so blocking these channels has the potential of turning off pain in people with normal pain pathways,” said Dr. King.
Dr. Julei Kaae Klint, a former colleague of Dr. King’s and now a researcher at biotechnology firm Evotec, explains further: “A conservative estimate indicates that there are nine million spider-venom peptides, and only 0.01 percent of this vast pharmacological landscape has been explored so far.” Dr. Klint and her colleagues have now developed a system to isolate and understand the vast quantity of spider venom proteins, or peptides, to identify new potential pain killers. Of the 206 species of spiders they have studied, 40 percent of the venoms analyzed contained at least one of seven compounds that can block human Nav1.7 channels.
“Previous research shows indifference to pain among people who lack Nav1.7 channels due to a naturally-occurring genetic mutation – so blocking these channels has the potential of turning off pain in people with normal pain pathways,” explained Dr. Klint’s former research team lead Dr. Glenn King from the University of Queensland.
These new compounds could very soon pave the way for a whole new class of drugs that can alleviate chronic pain in millions of people for whom current drugs are proving ineffective or unsustainable.
Although this revolutionary new way to manage pain is not yet available, at BodyMend Wellness clinic we are able to offer a variety of tried and true treatments proven to be effective at reducing and alleviating pain due to stress and injury. Our professional interdisciplinary team of health care practitioners are happy to lend their expertise in mending you back to better health. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 905-456-8196 to book your appointment.
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