Manipulation of a spider peptide toxin alters its affinity for lipid bilayers and potency and selectivity for voltage-gated sodium channel subtype 1.7
© Jenny Dettrick/Getty
Modifying a small protein found in spider venom has produced a strong pain reliever that works well in mice and could lead to a replacement for opioids.
Opioids are tremendous at relieving pain, but they are highly addictive, and this has given rise to the opioid epidemic in the United States. There is a great need for alternative pain relievers that are just as effective at quelling pain but are non-addictive.
Now, a team of researchers, all from the University of Queensland, has found that a small protein found in the venom of the Chinese bird spider binds to pain receptors in the body. They modified the protein to increase its affinity for the cell membrane so that it targets specific pain receptors there and thereby making it a more potent pain reliever.
- Journal of Biological Chemistry 295, 5067–5080 (2020). doi: 10.1074/jbc.ra119.012281
|The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia||0.95|
|NIH National Cancer Institute (NCI), United States of America (USA)||0.05|