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Mamba venom used to make painkiller

Researchers near Nice have extracted a substance from deadly poison that may be a side-effects-free morphine alternative

DEADLY snake venom has been used to make a new kind of painkiller by scientists on the Riviera.

A team of researchers based at the Sophia Antipolis business park west of Nice say they have isolated a new substance from Black mamba venom which “may be as strong as morphine but without its undesirable effects.” These can sometimes mean the use of morphine has to be discontinued and it does not always work, notably in the treatment of some cancers.

The substance, dubbed “mambalgine”, has so far been tested on rats, said the team, from the Institut de Pharmacologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (a partnership between Nice University and national research body CNRS).

Mambas are among the world’s deadliest snakes – an untreated bite is fatal, sometimes within half an hour. Found in central and east Africa, they are also the fastest-moving snakes and can reach more than 4m in length.

The results were published in leading science journal Nature. Apart from the mamba discovery they are also said to show important findings concerning the mechanisms involved in pain.

Photo: Bill Love/Blue Chameleon Ventures Wikimedia Commons

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