The venom produced by one of the largest spiders in the world may bring the hope to ease the gut pain suffered by millions of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Australian researchers revealed on Monday.
IBS is an intestinal disorder causing pain in the stomach which affects the internal organs. The causes of IBS remain unknown.
The lead researcher, Professor Richard Lewis from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience said current treatment targeting gut pain had some drawbacks.
“All pains are complex but gut pain is particularly challenging to treat and affects around 20 percent of the world’s population,” Lewis said.
“Current drugs are failing to produce effective pain relief in many patients before side effects limit the dose that can be administered.”
There were hundreds of mini proteins known as peptides contained in spider’s venom which has the capability of blocking the pain. However, not all of them were able to specifically block the chronic visceral pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome, according to Lewis.
“Our goal was to find more specialized pain blockers that are potent and target pain sodium channels for chronic visceral pain, but not those that are active in the heart and other channels,” he said.
Researchers screened venom from 28 spiders and identified two peptides from the venom of the Venezuelan Pinkfoot Goliath tarantula – which has a leg-span of up to 30 centimeters were most promising, with one nearly stopping chronic visceral pain in a model of IBS, reports Xinhua.
“The highly selective ones have potential as treatments for pain, while others are useful as new research tools to allow us to understand the underlying drivers of pain in different diseases,” Lewis said.