Snail toxin could provide relief from painOctober 24th, 2008 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS
Sydney, Oct 24 (IANS) The toxins with which cone snails immobilise their prey, could potentially offer better pain relief in the future, according to research. Neuroscientists at University of Queensland’s Brain Institute (QBI) have revealed that a toxin produced by a lethal cone snail acts on a newly identified target and cell signalling pathway that may play a critical role in regulating chronic pain.
The venom of cone snails - marine animals found in several of the world’s oceans - is currently the subject of extensive scientific investigation because its powerful analgesic (pain relieving) properties are thought to offer several distinct advantages over traditional therapeutic treatments for neuropathic pain.
Professor David Adams and his team have identified specific peptides in the cone shell toxin that may serve as the molecular framework for novel “designer” conotoxins, according to a Queensland press release.
“For several years, it’s been known that the remarkable properties of cone shell toxins (conotoxins) hold tremendous promise for chronic pain sufferers, and drugs that can combat or alleviate pain are a holy grail in drug discovery,” Adams said.
The prevailing scientific view until now has been that conotoxins only targeted one group of pain receptors. However, Adams, along with David Craik (UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience) and colleagues have described a surprising new way of inhibiting pain sensors using mini-proteins commonly found in cone snail venoms.
These findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience.