Sydney, The venom from one of the largest spiders in the world may bring the hope to ease the gut pain suffered by millions of people with the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Australian researchers revealed on Monday.
IBS is an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach which affects the internal organs. The causes of IBS remain unknown.
The lead researcher, Professor Richard Lewis from the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience said current treatment targeting gut pain had some drawbacks.
"All pains are complex but gut pain is particularly challenging to treat and affects around 20 percent of the world's population," Lewis said.
"Current drugs are failing to produce effective pain relief in many patients before side effects limit the dose that can be administered."
There were hundreds of mini proteins known as peptides contained in spider's venom which has the capability of blocking the pain. However, not all of them were able to specifically block the chronic visceral pain caused by IBS, according to Lewis.
"Our goal was to find more specialized pain blockers that are potent and target pain sodium channels for chronic visceral pain, but not those that are active in the heart and other channels," he said.
Researchers screened venom from 28 spiders and identified two peptides from the venom of the Venezuelan Pinkfoot Goliath tarantula - which has a leg-span of up to 30 centimeters were most promising, with one nearly stopping chronic visceral pain in a model of IBS, reports Xinhua.
"The highly selective ones have potential as treatments for pain, while others are useful as new research tools to allow us to understand the underlying drivers of pain in different diseases," Lewis said.
Sydney- Researchers have found that venom from a tarantula spider could be used as an alternative to opioid painkillers for people seeking chronic pain relief.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers from the University of Queensland have designed a novel tarantula venom mini-protein that can potentially relieve severe pain without addiction.
The current opioid crisis around the world meant urgent alternatives to morphine and morphine-like drugs, such as fentanyl and oxycodone, were desperately needed, they said.
"Although opioids are effective in producing pain relief, they come with unwanted side-effects like nausea, constipation and the risk of addiction, placing a huge burden on society," said study researcher Christina Schroeder from the University of Queensland in Australia.
"Our study found that a mini-protein in tarantula venom from the Chinese bird spider, known as Huwentoxin-IV, binds to pain receptors in the body," Schroeder added.
"By using a three-pronged approach in our drug design that incorporates the mini-protein, its receptor and the surrounding membrane from the spider venom, we've altered this mini-protein resulting in greater potency and specificity for specific pain receptors," she said.
This ensures that just the right amount of the mini-protein attaches itself to the receptor and the cell membrane surrounding the pain receptors.
According to the researchers, mini-protein had been tested in mouse models and shown to work effectively.
"Our findings could potentially lead to an alternative method of treating pain without the side-effects and reduce many individuals' reliance on opioids for pain relief," she added. --IANS