Biologists from the United States was isolated from the venom of marine snails-cones is an unusual molecule that suppresses the pain as much as morphine and other opiates, but does not cause addiction, according to a paper published in the journal PNAS.
“Nature has created an Arsenal of biomolecules, which not only can solve extremely complicated tasks, but also have a lot of unexpected applications. We were wondering if you can use poisons shellfish to study to study the work of the various chains of neurons in the brain of animals and humans,” says Oliver Baldomera (Baldomera Olivera) from the University of Utah in salt lake city (USA).
Snails-cones are widely distributed in coastal waters of tropical seas. These invertebrates spend in the thick sand, and a night out on the hunt. When past them floats a fish, they throw harpoon that injects venom into the victim’s body. Future “lunch” of the clam is almost instantly paralyzed, allowing a predator to leisurely earn their living and thrive (in the seas of the Earth there are about 500 species of snails-cones).
The secret of hunting snails, as recently discovered by American scientists, lies in two components of its venom is fast-acting neurotoxin, killing the victim, and in a special version of insulin, paralyses the fish body in a matter of milliseconds due to the fact that the cells of the muscles and brain immediately lose their main food source – the molecules of blood sugar. The venom of the cones has such power that he can kill not only fish but also humans.
Oliver and his colleagues found the neurotoxin of these snails an unusual molecule, Rg1A, which can be the basis for replacement of modern painkillers based on opiates. This molecule, as shown by the experiments of the authors, operates on the same nerve cells that morphine and heroin, but otherwise, affecting the so-called nicotine-acetylcholine receptors on their surface.
As demonstrated by experiments on mice, the introduction of even small doses Rg1A in their body actually resets their sensitivity to pain for a very long time – about 72 hours. Interestingly, a similar duration of action markedly exceeds the time of the withdrawal of the toxin from the organism of rodents, indicating that the indirect nature of its work.
Verify that Rg1A on mice, scientists have tried to adapt it for use in the human body. The fruit of these efforts was the creation of molecules RgIA4, which acts on nicotine acetylcholine receptors is much stronger than its natural version.
Her work biologists have tested it on another group of mice where they injected a medicine that makes the body painfully sensitive to cold and touch. By placing several of these rodents in cold cells, biologists watched how they operated injection RgIA4. It turned out that the drug completely prevented the development of pain and allowed the rodents to live a normal life. The same result can be achieved simply by removing receptors from the surface nerve cells, which proves that RgIA4 really suppresses pain.
As scientists hope, to accept their drugs to the doctors, after all clinical trials, and other checks will help to reduce the severity of the epidemic abuse “pharmacy” opiate that has swept the US in recent years.