Centipede Venom Blocks Pain

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centipedeThe Chinese Red-Headed Centipede has potent venom that can block nerves in insects to allow the centipedes to prey on them. A molecule in this venom could potentially be used as a painkiller in humans, similar to morphine.

Researchers from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience have demonstrated that centipede venom is loaded with molecules that can alter the function of nerve channels. A specific nerve channel in humans, Nav1.7, is associated with pain sensation. When this channel is blocked, people cannot feel pain.

The molecule in centipede venom that the group studied does indeed specifically target this pain channel, which is extremely important since other related channels aid in control of the heart and muscles. If the study is successful, it might lead to a new source of drugs to treat chronic pain and other conditions.

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