WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Researchers from UC Davis Health are trying to produce a pain killer using spider venom.
- They are reprogramming the proteins in the venom to make it more selective to certain pain receptors in the nervous system.
- The reprogrammed protein could likely be as potent as morphine, but without the harmful side effects.
A group of researchers from UC Davis Health is using spider venom to make pain killers.
“Nature offers such a wide diversity of, you know, proteins that basically for us are building blocks of future medicines,” says Dr. Vladimir Yarov-Yarovoy, the lead researcher of the 20-person team.
The team is redesigning the peptides, a type of protein found in the venom of spiders, to convert it into a pain killer. Yarov-Yarovoy explained that they are making the peptides more selective to certain receptors in the nervous system that are responsible for pain signals. He assured that they’re working to make it as safe as possible.
For members of the research team, the study is a game-changer. They are using microscopes and a program called Rosetta to study various computer-generated models that will help them reprogram the protein and make it into a new drug.
According to Yarov-Yarovoy, the protein is showing promising results of being as potent as morphine, but without the harmful side effects.
The development of the medicine may take at least five years. However, Yarov-Yarovoy says the years of producing the medicine will be worth it.
Another UC Davis professor is also creating a new pain medication for humans and animals. The FDA gave it a fast-tracked designation in 2020.
As for the pain medication using spider venom, it’s still not sure what specific kind of pain medicine it would become. Yarov-Yarovoy said their short-term goal is for the medicine to be administered by injection at medical facilities, while they are hoping that it will be available at pharmacies in the long run.
Source: CBS Sacramento