A team of researchers identified seven compounds found in spider venom which, if isolated, could open up a new class of painkillers for people who suffer from chronic pain resistant to current treatment options, according to research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

The research team, led by Julie K. Klint of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, built a human cell line assay that expresses high levels of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7, which when depolarized activates endogenous calcium channels that allow calcium ions to bind to an internalized fluorescent dye. They used the assay to rapidly analyze the compounds in venoms from 205 species of spider. A total of 40% of the venoms screened contained at least one compound that blocked human Nav1.7 channels, which can disrupt a key step in the body’s ability to pass pain signals to the brain, the investigators noted.

“The venom-based drug discovery pipeline described here provides a paradigm for high-throughput screening of animal venoms against other therapeutic ion channel targets,” they wrote.Read the entire article here .

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