Snake Venom Might Actually Be a Better Painkiller Than Morphine

By Adrian Covert on at

Morphine—glorious, glorious morphine—is among the world's most potent painkillers, able to make you forget about that broken leg or split open skull. But what if something that generally causes death could be transformed into something that aided the body in recovery? Scientists believe they've discovered the element in Black Mamba venom that does just that.

Referred to as mambalgins, these proteins can attach themselves to nerves and inhibit those painful signals that normally reach the brain. What's more, however, is that the side effects are not as affecting as normal painkillers:

Most three-finger toxins kill the nerve cells they stick to, but that doesn't seem to be the case with mambalgins. In fact, animal testing revealed that the mambalgins "do not produce motor dysfunction, apathy, flaccid paralysis, convulsions or death upon central injections."

Maybe you enjoy the motor dysfunction aspect, but if you want to actually make it through a productive day pain-free, this may be your ticket in the future. [Nature via Ars Technica]

Image via Flickr/Vasenka