A tiny snail may offer an alternative to opioids for pain relief. Scientists have found a compound that blocks pain by targeting a pathway not associated with opioids. Research in rodents indicates that the benefits continue long after the compound have cleared the body. Now we have to just hope that when it goes through clinical trials in humans it has the same effect or better. There will be more breakthroughs every year even every month as we are discovering new species everyday.

In this study they found a compound isolated from the snails venom, This compound is called Rg1A and it acts on a pain pathway that is distinct from that targeted by opioid drugs. When using rodent models the scientists showed that the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors functions as a pain pathway receptor and that Rg1A4 is an effective compound to block this receptor. The pathway adds to a small number of non-opioid-based pathways that could be further developed to treat chronic pain.

Interestingly the duration of the pain relieve was long, greatly outlasting the presence of the compound in the animal’s systems.  The compound works its way through the body in 4 hours, but they also found that the compound lingered around for like 72 hours after the injection which also had a restorative effect on some components of the nervous system.

What is particular to me about these results is the prevention properties of this compound. Because Chronic pain is very hard to treat once it has been developed over time with no results. this compound offers a new pathway to prevent pain from developing in the first place and offer a new therapy to patients who have run out of options. Which sounds promising to me considering but I don’t want to get my hope’s up but remain positive until the human clinical trials begin and hopefully they have similar results.


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