Molecular Medicine Israel

Peptide painkillers found in black mamba snake venom

Nature 490,552–555 (25 October 2012)

Sylvie Diochot et al.

“Black mamba venom peptides target acid-sensing ion channels to abolish pain”

The lethal bite of a black mamba snake packs quite a punch. A single squirt from the African serpent’s fangs contains enough neurotoxin to kill more than a dozen adult humans. Yet the venomous cocktail of compounds also includes two proteins that, at least in mice, can ease pain as effectively as the most potent analgesics with fewer complications. Eric Lingueglia and his colleagues at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in Valbonne, France, discovered the proteins, dubbed mambalgins. Reporting last month in Nature (doi:10.1038/nature11494, 2012), Lingueglia’s team injected the mambalgins, which inhibit acid-sensing ion channels, into mice and showed that their pain-relieving properties were as strong as morphine’s but with no respiratory side effects and a weaker propensity for causing drug tolerance. “In pain, it’s important to find new molecules working through different pathways than the ones we already know,” Lingueglia says.”

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