What Do Spiders Have to Do with Pain Relief?

New research has shown that the source of your arachnophobia may be able to target the same pain receptors as opioids.

New research has shown that the source of your arachnophobia may be able to target the same pain receptors as opioids.

This isn’t the first time that a critter crawled its way into a potential medication. Nearly a year ago researchers found that caterpillar fungus could be a new analgesic for osteoarthritis. Now, a study from Brazil has uncovered the pain relief effects of the spider toxin, PnPP-19.

PnPP-19 has also been studied to treat erectile dysfunction, and revealed promising results. It turns out that the spider toxin that the peptide was developed from, PnTx2-6, causes hyperalgesia. So the Brazilian team set out to find what role it plays in pain relief.

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Using rats, the researchers administered the PnPP-19 and found that it indeed alleviated pain. The toxin accessed the receptors in the nervous system in a similar way that opioids or medical marijuana do.

“Our findings reveal at least part of the mechanism of action underlying the pain relieving effects induced by PnPP-19,” lead author Dr. Maria de Lima, from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, said in a news release.

According to the findings, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, the spider toxin induced an antinociceptive effect, which carries positive medication indications.

“They also may contribute to the consideration of PnPP-19 as a potential lead compound for the development of new drug candidates to treat pain,” de Lima continued.

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