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Snail Venom: Newly created drug has 100 times morphine's power

By Basoodler, Mar 22, 2014 | | |
  1. Basoodler

    Move over, morphine. Someday, we may be turning to carnivorous snails for our pain-killing needs, a study suggests.

    Australian researchers have found that a drug made using venom from ocean-dwelling cone snails may be 100 times as powerful as top painkillers morphine and gabapentin, which are currently used to ease chronic nerve pain born from injury, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases, AFP reports. What's more, the drug, based on peptides called conotoxins that reside in the snails' venom, is thought not to have the addictive properties of other painkillers, the Sydney Morning Herald notes.

    So far, though, the drug has been tested only on rats. "We don't know about side effects yet, as it hasn't been tested in humans. But we think it would be safe," says lead researcher David Craik.

    A test on people is at least two years off, he notes; still, the finding could lead to a

    "whole new class of drugs capable of relieving one of the most severe forms of chronic pain that is currently very difficult to treat"

    .....and one taken orally.

    Another drug made from conotoxin is already approved for use on humans, but it requires spinal cord injection. (Meanwhile, a painkiller that one expert says "will kill as soon as it's released" is slated to hit shelves this month.)

    Matt Cantor, Newser
    4 hours ago 3/22/2014


    Photo :

    PATRICK PLEUL AFP/Getty Images


  1. Potter
    USA Today is a comic book for adults.
  2. CannabisBenzoBuddie
    Since when the hell is Neurontin a top pain killer? Ive tried it and its not even close to comparable to morphine...
  3. Potter
    In the same world where "A new drug 'will kill as soon as it's released'"...
  4. Basoodler
    background information:
    Cone Shell Cures

    Mar 19th, 2008 @ 05:01 pm ›

    When it comes to research on venom and converting it into useful drugs, studies involving exotic snakes or brightly colored frogs seem to attract the most attention. However, one of the most promising new venom-derived drugs actually comes from a very modest-looking sea snail.

    Worldwide, there are more than 600 kinds of cone shells found mostly in tropical waters around the Pacific. Collectors love them because their shells are decorated with an amazing array of intricate patterns.

    Biologists, however, have long been fascinated by the behavior of these clever hunters. Some cone shells target other snails, while others like to feast on fish. To sense food, cone shells filter water through a tubelike organ called a siphon, awaiting a whiff of the telltale chemicals emitted by their prey.

    To sense food, cone shells filter water through a tubelike organ called a siphon.

    Then, when its victim comes near, the cone shell extends a proboscis armed with a harpoonlike tip that injects venom filled with special chemicals called “conotoxins.” These toxins stop nerve cells from communicating with each other, causing paralysis within seconds and, eventually, death. Cone shells have even killed people who pick them up, unaware of the danger. Indeed, cone snail venom is so powerful and painless that victims can die unaware that they’ve even been bitten.

    Conotoxins have long interested medical researchers because of their potential painkilling abilities. It turns out, however, that cone shell venom is very complex; each kind contains perhaps 50 or more different chemicals that target the brain and nervous system. Overall, researchers believe that more than 50,000 conotoxins may exist. That diversity has made it hard for them to isolate a specific chemical to work on.

    But over the last few decades, conotoxins have begun to give up their secrets. Researchers have published more than 2,500 papers on the chemicals, and have described and identified more than 100 specific toxins which show promise for treating everything from arthritis to cancer. But the first new drug derived from a conotoxin, approved in 2004, targets chronic pain. Researchers estimate that the drug, based on the venom from the delicate gray and ivory magician cone shell, is a thousand times stronger than morphine, the most powerful traditional painkiller.

    Even as cone shells show promise for medicine, however, their survival may be at stake. Collectors gather millions of the animals each year for the decorative shell trade. Demand from conotoxin researchers is growing too, since many shells may be needed to produce even small amounts of toxin. And coral reefs, which support more than half of all cone shell species, are under increasing threat from human activities.

    To protect cone shells, biologists are asking nations in tropical zones to take new steps to monitor the shell trade and protect reefs. “To lose these species would be a self-destructive act of unparalleled folly,” researcher Eric Chivian of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts wrote in a 2003 paper published by the journal SCIENCE. “Tropical cone snails may contain the largest and most clinically important pharmacopoeia of any [group of animals] in nature.”

  5. Basoodler

    I got this :)

    Lyrica actually is a popular pain medication in severe nerve disorders.

    About a year ago one of my buddies started to have episodes of extreme pain and temporary. (semi) paralysis on one side of his face. He and doctors both agreed that the current pain scale of 1-10 did not go high enough to cover the pain he was periodically experiencing.

    After some general doctorial "Riga-ma-roll" of collecting opinions from specialists they finally diagnosed him with having a rare nerve disorder described as "the most painful thing a human can experience". (I can't remember the name at the moment)

    Anyway, his treatment for this pain was lyrics coupled with the most Horrific antipsychotic type drug I've had the pleasure of reading about. The warnings on this shit were not described in terms of "if" they are in terms of "when".

    Opiates wouldn't touch this pain at all because of the nerual mechanism of the disorder.

    Oddly enough, we came across research on using phenibut for the treatment of the disorder. Coincidentally, at that time I had more phenibut in my house than flour so I passed on a good helping to him and it seemed to help.
  6. Basoodler
    Chronic pain? Pop a petunia seed/snail toxin bio pill

    Posted by Ben on Wed 19 Mar 2014

    How childbirth in rural Africa, petunias and deadly marine snails combined to open the door for new types of drug.

    In the future, sufferers of chronic pain may simply need to sip petunia tea or pop a petunia seed pill in order to alleviate their symptoms. These petunias would have been genetically modified to produce small, circular peptides very similar to conotoxins, produced in the wild by a family of marine molluscs called cone snails.

    Conotoxins have been investigated as potential painkillers for at least a decade. As slow moving animals, cone snails rely on a cocktail of chemicals that rapidly targets the nervous system to paralyse their prey before they can eat them. One drug based on these toxins, ziconotide (Prialt), is already approved for use in humans, but this protein drug is broken down in the digestive tract so it must be administered into the spine. Although effective, this method is intrusive and creates an infection risk, so is understandably undesirable.

    David Craik and his team at the University of Queensland realised that they could make an oral version of these peptides by cyclisation – using solid-phase peptide chemistry to link the two end amino acids into a closed loop. Through this process they have manufactured a number of peptides that block chronic pain in rodent models more effectively than morphine and gabapentin, the current gold standard for chronic pain.

    At the American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas, Craik announced the design and development of five new synthetic cyclic peptides based on the cone snail toxins. Importantly, they have also identified examples of plants within five major families that naturally produce cyclic peptides: rubiacae (including coffee), violaceae (violets and pansies), cucurbitaceae (squashes, cucumbers, watermelons and more), solanaceae (such as potato and tomato) and fabaceae (legumes).

    Craik now hopes to incorporate genes for their designed peptides into plants, and has identified the petunia as a very good host. ‘When we started to do this work, we originally thought that we would use tobacco as the host plant: it’s a very easy plant to transform and it’s a model plant. When we put the genes for related molecules into tobacco, we did produce some cyclic peptide, but we got mainly linear. That’s where the petunia is the big breakthrough. Petunia already produces cyclotides, and so if we put a foreign modified conotoxin gene into it, the petunia is fantastic at producing the cyclic version with almost no misprocessed linear version.’ This opens the door for new cyclic peptide based drugs that are able to be used for more than just pain control, and as these drugs can be very well targeted, they could reduce the burden of side effects.

    The plant-based method also allows drugs to be developed away from the sterile laboratory environment, according to Craik: ‘We started this work thinking that we could actually make medicine for third world countries. Not so much pain drugs, but for other applications. The reason we got on to circular plant proteins in the first place was because women in Africa take a plant, called Oldenlandia affinis, make a tea from it, sip the tea during labour and it accelerates childbirth. It turns out that the active uterotonic agent is a cyclic peptide called kalata-B1. … We were thinking that if we could put high tech protein drugs into plants like that in Africa then people could have these sorts of medicines essentially growing in their back yard.’


    .... Odd
  7. CannabisBenzoBuddie

    It was ment to read Neurontin.... aka Gabapentin
  8. Phenoxide
    The same applies to gabapentin. Both are favored treatments for neuropathic pain, and as Basoodler said, generally more effective than opioids for this purpose.
  9. Basoodler
    It was Trigeminal Neuralgia aka the suicide disease that was diagnosed.

    He was prescribed carbamazepine and gabapentin as a "treatment" . I guess it was an anticonvulsant not antipsychotic medication.. Info http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=177174

    I figure that it would be better to have this snail venom /flower drug just to avoid personality changes that can interfere with all aspects of your life.. We don't want a world filled with emotionless Spock clones :p
  10. CannabisBenzoBuddie
    I have nerve pain in my lower back and gabapentin dos jack shit , opiods on the other hand take pain away like no other...

    Then again a while back i read zoloft was on the CDC's top 10 most abused drugs...

    I don't get that one either.
  11. Basoodler
    That statistic on Zoloft is probably a reflection of budget minded individuals, uninsured or those who feel the dr. Misdiagnised them buying the medication via internet "pharmacies" .. Or shady pharmacies whose packages from India or China have been seized.

    While I am quite sure that there are idiots out there smoking , slamming or railing Zoloft as a part of their relentless pursuit of careless idiocy .. Its not a trend as far as I know
  12. bean.
    Venoms from a variety of animals are promising pain killers. Centipede venom is also being examined as a selective NaV1.7 antagonist and shows no real side effects in mice at doses which produce comparable analgesia to morphine.
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