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Deadly snake venom may make painkiller
The deadly venom of the black mamba snake can yield a painkiller as powerful as morphine but without most of the side-effects, French scientists say.
One of the speediest and most dangerous snakes found in Africa, the black mamba uses its venom, which contains neurotoxins, to paralyze and kill small animals that are its prey.
However, researchers at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology in France discovered its venom also contains a potent painkilling protein called mambalgins.
Scientists say they have no idea why the snake would produce it.
“When it was tested in mice, the analgesia was as strong as morphine, but you don’t have most of the side-effects,” institute researcher Eric Lingueglia told the BBC.
Tests on human cells in the laboratory suggested mambalgins might have similar chemical effects in people, he said.
“It is the very first stage, of course, and it is difficult to tell if it will be a painkiller in humans or not. A lot more work still needs to be done in animals.”
Copyright 2012 by United Press International