April 21, 2015
Scientists in Australia are studying spider venom as a potential non-addictive painkiller alternative.
to a report by the Wall
Street Journal, the medical community has been
working to identify new medications to treat chronic pain, which affects
about 15 percent of all adults, since traditional
painkillers such as morphine and hydrocodone can be addictive, leading to drug
abuse, which is a growing issue in America and beyond.
According to the latest
statistics, 2.5 million Americans abused prescription drugs for the
first time in 2007, compared to 2.1 million who used marijuana for the first
time that same year.
Among teens, only marijuana is used more commonly than prescription drugs. Almost half the teens abusing prescription drugs are
taking painkillers, which is incorrectly believed to be safer than illegal
street drugs. As a result, this has prompted stricter regulations from
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Spider venom, however, doesn’t seem to have the same addictive
properties. Preliminary research shows venom blocks the molecular pathway
responsible for sending pain signals from the nerves to the brain. Opiate
painkillers, by contrast, block widespread opioid receptors on cells in the
brain, spinal cord and other organs.
Research is still in the primary stages. Read the full Wall Street Journal article here.