The toxin called ACV1 is being tested on humans as the first trials begin this month. Discovered by Assoc. Prof. Bruce Livett and team from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) at the University of Melbourne, and Bio21 Research Institute, the toxin has a potential to treat a range of painful conditions.
The toxin is produced in the venom of marine cone snails called Conus victoriae found along the north west coast of Australia. The snail uses the venom to paralyze the prey before killing it for food. At least 20 people have been known to die from poisoning by envenomation by cone snails.
The researchers of the study said that the toxin not only has pain killing properties, it can also heal injuries to nerves and other painful conditions. Neuropathetic pain is the pain that arise from inside the body, like those arising from the nervous system, as opposed to nociceptive pain, which comes from outside the body, like burn or injury. Neuropathetic pain is difficult to treat as it responds badly to conventional painkillers.,