Taking the Sting out of Pain: Scorpion Venom Could Provide Alternative to Narcotic Pain Drugs
From Cort Johnson’s excellent FMS/CF site, where he manages to explain complicated technical concepts in layman’s terms:
Dr. Michael Gurevitz of Tel Aviv University is determined to find a way to turn a scorpion’s sting into a balm for pain sufferers. Remarkably, the same bite that causes pain, irritability, hyperthermia, vomiting, profuse salivation, tremor, and convulsion and sometimes even organ damage and death could hold the key to pain reduction.
A recent Martinez-Lavin study that directly implicates mutated sodium channels in the dorsal ganglia with severe pain in fibromyalgia suggests Gurevitz is on the right track.
The article explains how the sodium channels are involved in pain perception and how scorpion venom affects them.
Gurevitch believe that finding the right scorpion venom peptide (from hundreds), and then tweaking it to turn those sodium channels off may spell safe effective pain relief. . Since the drug would mimic a naturally occurring substance that simply washes out of the body it should be safe. Because it would stop over-active sodium channels from sending pain signals to the brain there would be no need to bludgeon the opioid receptors in the central nervous system to reduce the perception of pain.
This is truly promising research because it addresses the source of the problem: the hyper-excitability of the nervous system, especially to pain.
Here’s the NIH study:
RESULTS: AVS had significantly increased innervation among FM patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The excessive sensory innervation to the glabrous skin AVS is a likely source of severe pain and tenderness in the hands of FM patients. Importantly, glabrous AVS regulate blood flow to the skin in humans for thermoregulation and to other tissues such as skeletal muscle during periods of increased metabolic demand. Therefore, blood flow dysregulation as a result of excessive innervation to AVS would likely contribute to the widespread deep pain and fatigue of FM. SNRI compounds may provide partial therapeutic benefit by enhancing the impact of sympathetically mediated inhibitory modulation of the excess sensory innervation.