New Hope for Pain Relief: Snail Venom?
Chronic pain is common—affecting about 1 in 3 people in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at the University of Utah recently made a discovery that could one day provide an alternative to opioids for treating pain—a compound in snail venom.
In animal studies, this compound—used by a type of small marine snail to paralyze and kill its prey—blocked pain receptors by targeting a different pathway than opioids. According to researchers, the pain-relieving benefits of the compound were long-lasting—often more than 72 hours—although the substance cleared the body in about four hours.
Discovering non-opioid-based pathways and developing new ways to prevent pain are important aspects of pain research. Opioids are highly addictive and the CDC reports that approximately 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day. The next step will be pre-clinical testing to investigate the safety and effectiveness of this potential new treatment for pain.
Image Credit: Thinkstock