Centipede Venom to Replace Morphine?

CentipedeScientists are testing to see if centipede venom can be used in place of morphine. Over $600 billion are spent on chronic pain issues in the United States alone. Not only is morphine addictive, it blocks receptors in our nervous system that leaves bad side effects to our bodies. This new research on venom will not be addictive since it is unlikely for humans to develop an addiction to venom.

Humans have numerous Nav channels that help in the electrical signaling in our neurons. The venom from these centipedes target Nav 1.7 channel, which is the crucial channel in pain transmission. If this channel is targeted, then people are unable to experience pain since the pain will not travel completely down the pathway. It is difficult to find a drug that specifically targets this channel. Scientists need to do more research by testing out other models.

I am a bit skeptical on this and I feel that these scientist need to do numerous tests to make sure that this venom only attacks Nav1.7 channel. If it affects another one, it could change the whole signaling stage and cause bad side effects. Also, only having models of animals is a bit risky because they are not exactly like humans.  Research can only go to a certain limit before it becomes unethical.

I think this is a great hypothesis because it may help lessen cost of addictive drugs, a person’s addiction to the drug, and target the specific channel instead of blocking receptors in our bodies. However, there needs to be extensive research on this because venom could be very dangerous for humans if given a wrong dosage or if the reaction goes badly.

-Amanda Ng

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/10/01/3859315.htm

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