Black Mamba produces morphine-like painkiller

Posted on October 05 2012

The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is one of the most feared animals in the world. Its venom is powerful enough to kill an adult human in 20 minutes, or less. However, science has given us a reason to look at the Mamba differently. New research shows the Black Mamba produces a natural pain killer, as strong as morphine, which is mixed within the venom. Searching for a natural form of pain killer, researchers examined 50 other species before stumbling upon the Black Mamba. This snake is one of the most feared, and the most deadly on the African continent. The finding in itself has raised completely new questions regarding why the snake would have a pain killer in its venom to begin with. Speculation for its use has provided ideas including impairing prey and mixing venom for effectiveness. Why the Black Mamba produces a pain killing protein will bring about further study. The most interesting fact of this finding is that the pain killer has the same effectiveness as morphine, but without the side effects. Morphine is a powerful analgesic that comes from the opioid family. While it works wonders to relieve severe pain, it also induces vomiting, muscle twitching, headaches, severe addiction, and can be lethal. This new pain killer could be used for treatment of severe pain without the worry that a patient could potentially become an addict, or suffer withdrawal. Scientists feel they have made a significant discovery for a potential path of human medicine. The venom’s pain killing proteins, also known as mambalgins, are still currently being tested on animals. Because of the entry path of the drug, it is currently being introduced via spinal injection. Researchers say it could take a while before the drug is developed for human use. The findings are interesting given the Black Mamba’s reputation as a killer. Now, the Black Mamba may be providing us with a natural pain killer, as strong as morphine, derived from its venom.   Sources: WebMd - Huffington Post Healthy Living - BBC News Health -


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