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Centipede venom could lead to new class of pain drug

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Posted October 1, 2013
A protein found in centipede venom could be developed into a drug to treat chronic pain that is as effective as morphine but without the side effects, researchers say.
Centipede venom could lead to new class of pain drug
The venom of the Chinese red headed centipede may be an effective in treating pain. Credit: Thomas Brown
 

The joint Australian-Chinese study, published today in the journal PNAS, found that a small protein in the Chinese red-headed centipede proved as potent as morphine to relieve pain in mice-based experiments.

The protein, called a peptide, alters the function of the nerve channels, selectively targeting the Nav1.7 pain channel. And because it has a different target to morphine, it could be used to treat all types of chronic pain.

“Venomous arthropod predators, like centipedes, scorpions, and spiders, worked out a couple of hundred million years ago that the best way to kill an insect is to target their nervous system,” explained study co-author Glenn King, from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. “So that’s why decided to study centipede venom.”

Read more at: MedicalXpress

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