Snake Venom Used for Painkillers

Scientific American says that toxic venom could be combined with other ingredients for painkillers.  The black mamba snake would normally kill an adult under 30 minutes, but now might be used for just the opposite purpose- pain relief.  In a test, it blocked acute and inflammatory pain- equally as well as the painkiller morphine.  The article states that Sylvie Diochot purified that peptides from the venom and profiled the compounds structure.  AKA purifying the venom to allow it to act as a painkiller, and not killing.  Then mice were tested using genetic tweaks to block the pain.  “Diochot and her colleagues determined that the mambalgins work by blocking an as-yet untargeted set of neurological ion channels associated with pain signals.”  The researchers think that this will be a huge lead to learning more about what drives pain.  As the researchers noted in their paper, “It is essential to understand pain better to develop new analgesics. The black mamba peptides discovered here have the potential to address both of these aims.”   They even used other animals including spiders and scorpions to study and see if they could also be used in the future.  The article also recommends not attempting this yourself, because the anti-venom is not always available.  Good suggestion.


I would never expect venom to be used in painkillers, but it shows how far our technology is coming.   Could animals also provide a further use in the future for more serious conditions such as cancer? With increases in technology and health advances, I think that animals could be used in more ways/uses than we expect.  If this could be used as a substitute to morphine, the article suggests it is a healthier method.  If it could also lead to methods to discover what leads/ drives pain, further inventions in healthcare could be based off this research.


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