Spider Venom Could Ease Your Pain
Poisonous spiders may seem scary, but their venom could lead to better pain medications.
Chemist Greg Holland of Arizona State University thinks that poisonous spiders have been given a bad rap. He’s collecting venom from tarantulas to learn more about their toxic poison and how it can potentially help people.
"Some of the proteins that have been discovered in venom can be used as drugs,” Holland said.
Using nuclear magnetic resonance – much like an MRI – scientists can learn about tiny structures in spider venom.
“Their complete three-dimensional structure has not been solved, so we are working towards solving the structure, which will allow us to better understand how they work and function in the body,” he said.
Researchers want to learn more about certain protein structures in venom, which they hope could turn human pain receptors on and off, like painkiller medications.
“Structure directly relates to how something functions, so in order to understand its function, you have to solve its structure.” said Holland.
Researchers want to learn more about certain protein structures in venom, which they hope could turn human pain receptors on and off – like painkiller medications. They’ve also learned that venom could help control some heart rhythm problems like arrhythmias.
Why use venom from these spiders?
“Tarantulas are fairly large," Holland said. "They produce a fair amount of venom compared to smaller spiders so it gives us a larger source."
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