Spider venom holds promise of chronic-pain relief

Scientists in Australia think venomous species of spiders could help develop new generation of pain-relieving drugs.

    Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from what doctors call "chronic pain".

    They cannot take anasthetics like morphine because, in the long term, their bodies would develop a tolerance to them. In high-doses, pain-relief drugs can have debilitating side-effects.

    But as Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas reports from Brisbane in Australia, scientists at the University of Queensland think that spider venom could contain the secrets of effective pain relief.

    "I cannot think of anything that’s as chemically complex in nature as spider venom," Institute of Molecular Bioscience researcher Glenn King, tells Al Jazeera.

    "They are the most complex of any of the venomous animals."

    King and others are studying the compounds found in the venom of tarantulas.

    Within the hundreds of chemicals that make up a tarantula's venom are some that affect the nerve system.

    Some block the channels that deliver pain signals to the brain while others lead to paralysis.

    They believe that working out exactly which molecules do what could revolutionise treatment for sufferers of chronic pain.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.