Centipede Venom Better Than Morphine: Study

It holds promise as pain-reliever, says study

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 4, 2013 9:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – How would you feel if the ER doctor offered you centipede venom for the pain? The idea isn't so farfetched: A new study finds that the venom, which paralyzes prey, may also yield a compound that's more effective than morphine as a painkiller for humans, Smithsonian reports. Why? One of the molecules in the venom from a Chinese red-headed centipede blocks a sodium-ion channel, which in turn can make humans "indifferent to all types of pain," researchers say.

When mice were subjected to thermal and acid pain tests, the venom was about as effective as morphine; during chemical pain tests, it was even better than morphine. (It's not all bad news for animal lovers: The mice experienced no side effects.) Another benefit of the venom molecule: Researchers don't think humans would develop an addiction to drugs made from it, because it doesn't block receptors as morphine does, ABC Science reports. (Click to see how cats could help us make an HIV vaccine.)

  (Shutterstock)
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