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Snake Venom Painkiller

November 26, 2012

Scientists have isolated a potent painkiller from the venom of the deadly black mamba snake.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Deadly snakes vs. pain.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The black mamba is one of the most aggressive and deadly snakes on earth. But scientists have discovered that proteins in its venom, called mambalgins, contain a powerful painkiller. Molecular biologist Eric Lingueglia at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in France says mamabalgins work by blocking pain signals in nerve cells.

ERIC LINGUEGLIA (Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, France):

When you isolate these molecules and you inject them in mice, you have no toxicity at all, but you have a very strong analgesic affect, and this effect can be as strong as morphine.

HIRSHON:

But unlike morphine, mambalgins have few side effects, and their effectiveness doesn’t decrease over time. Lingueglia adds that because his team has already cloned the gene for mambalgins, there’s no need to go out and catch additional black mambas to obtain more venom. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

The black mamba is one of the world's most lethal snakes. (Tim Vickers/Wikipedia)