In the face of the current opioid crisis, scientists are searching for new and safer painkillers (analgesics). Venomous animals may be useful in the search as their venom can contain peptides with analgesic properties. In fact, researchers recently discovered and characterized an analgesic peptide, dubbed SsmTX-I, that was isolated from the venomous centipede, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans. This peptide was shown to block a type of potassium channel (Kv2.1) in the body that is involved in sensing pain. While more research is needed on this peptide, the discovery of potential alternatives to opioids is encouraging.
Y Wang, X Li, M Yang, C Wu, Z Zou, J Tang, Z Yang. Centipede venom peptide SsmTX-I with two intramolecular disulfide bonds shows analgesic activities in animal models. Journal of Peptide Science. 23(5): 384-391, 2017.
Categories: Comparative Physiology