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Tarantula Venom May Be The Key To A Better Painkiller

A new study suggests that the venom from a King Baboon tarantula may be the key to a better painkiller.

The King Baboon tarantula is native to Kenya and Tanzania. While this tarantula’s bite is not lethal, it will cause days of excruciating pain, swelling, and muscle spasms in humans.

The venom from this tarantula is unique because it contains a peptide called Pm1a. This peptide opens the doors (channels) for sodium ions while also closing potassium ion channels. By allowing the sodium ions to keep marching in, and the potassium ions being kept locked in, you wind up with severe pain.

Many of today’s pain killers, or analgesics, work by only blocking a few ion channels. They don’t allow for anything to pass.

“Imagine if you engineer a different peptide that does just the opposite, blocking sodium channels and opening potassium channels,” said Sean Mackey, chief of pain medicine at Stanford University. “Now you’ve got an analgesic that is promiscuous and operating in a much different way than any of our current drugs.”

There is still a of lot of research to be done, but a new “tarantula painkiller” may be on its way!