Tarantula Venom Could Provide Pain Relief in IBS

Arachnophobes suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have to put their fear on hold to welcome pain relief from their gastrointestinal condition.

Arachnophobes suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have to put their fear on hold to welcome pain relief from their gastrointestinal condition.

New research from the University of Adelaide in South Australia discovered that a particular peptide in tarantula venom could be used to understand how people sense pain.

Stuart Brierly, PhD, associate professor, University of Adelaide, said, “Using the highly specific peptide in the spider toxin we were able to work out how pain nerve fibers signal in a healthy situation and also in chronic abdominal pain such as what you see in IBS.”

Two toxins from the tarantula species Heteroscodra maculate were found to target Nav 1.1 — a “voltage-gated sodium channel in the nervous system to initiate the electrical impulses that signal pain”.

Also, researchers noticed enhanced toxin sensitivity in the gut of mouse models with IBS.

Since the researchers realized the spider toxin was able to trigger more pain in the IBS state than in the healthy state, further research could allow them to develop treatment for IBS based pain blockers for Nav 1.1.

These pain blockers would only target the peripheral and wouldn’t lead into the central nervous system. However, the findings could potentially pave way to research into central nervous system disease like epilepsy.