Photo taken by Alvaro

How is it going readers? Today I will be talking about something that has been on my mind and will make you say “bioh, wow that is crazy.” Tarantulas, a type of spider feared by most people, carry a dangerous venom. However, Australian researchers recently discovered that the venom, when used correctly, can actually double as an effective but significantly less addictive painkiller. This peptide is found in the Peruvian green velvet tarantula, and has an official name of ProTx-II. It was originally identified by researchers at Yale, when after examining over 100 different samples of spider venom looking for a potential sample that could block the pain sensing neurons in the brain. To dig deeper into the science of it, researchers are looking for the exact peptide receptor that actually does the binding on the surface of cells. They are also searching for answers as to what aspects of the cell membrane allow it to do this. A very important pain receptor on the cell membrane is NaV1.7. Sonya Henriques, a researcher at the University of Queensland, described the situation by saying, “Our results show that the cell membrane plays an important role in the ability of ProTx-II to inhibit the pain receptor. In particular, the neuronal cell membranes attract the peptide to the neurons, increase its concentration close to the pain receptors, and lock the peptide in the right orientation to maximize its interaction with the target.” Although this potential discovery is in a very early stage, this could be an incredible breakthough. Only time will tell if spider venom can be used effectively and without extreme side effects to treat pain.

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