Fanged Fish’s Morphine-Like Venom May Inhibit Pain

Fanged Fish’s Morphine-Like Venom May Inhibit Pain

By Staff

A coral reef fish called fang blennies, stuns and disables predators with a heroin or morphine-like venom, and that has researchers from the University of Queensland hoping their discovery may lead to the development of new pain medicines in the future.

Associate Professor Bryan Fry, who is a co-author to the study published in Current Biology said, “The venomous fang blenny was found in the Pacific region, including on the Great Barrier Reef,” in a media release.

“The fish injects other fish with opioid peptides that act like heroin or morphine, inhibiting pain rather than causing it,” he said.

“Its venom is chemically unique. The venom causes the bitten fish to become slower in movement and dizzy by acting on their opioid receptors. To put that into human terms, opioid peptides would be the last thing an elite Olympic swimmer would use as performance-enhancing substances. They would be more likely to drown than win gold.”

Fang blennies, also known as poison-fang blennies or sabre-tooth blennies, of the genus Meiacanthus, are popular as ornamental tropical aquarium fish, the release stated.

“Fang blennies are the most interesting fish I’ve ever studied and have one of the most intriguing venoms of them all,” Fry continued.

“These fish are fascinating in their behavior. They fearlessly take on potential predators while also intensively fighting for space with similar sized fish. Their secret weapons are two large grooved teeth on the lower jaw that are linked to venom glands.”

The unique venom allows the fang blenny to more easily escape predators or defeat competitors.

“This study is an excellent example of why we need to protect nature,” he said. “If we lose the Great Barrier Reef, we will lose animals like the fang blenny and its unique venom that could be the source of the next blockbuster pain-killing drug.”

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Authored by: Staff

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Tim Mason at 9:23 am

    If in fact it is “morphine-like” common sense says use morphine. We already have morphine, it is cheap to make from the poppy plant and no further studies are needed.
    Any Grant money for such a project can be used to fix the CDC and FDA statistics problems concerning addiction and chronic pain patients.

  2. Kathy C at 10:03 pm

    Don’t get too excited. Remember how they hyped the Cone Snail? It doesn’t look like will be any Breakthroughs in the near future. They would have to acknowledge a need first. Most of the “Research” lately has been PsuedoScientific anyway. The alternatives seem to be wishing, prayer, and thinking good thoughts. They don’t even count the number of people impacted by this, the For Profit Medical Industry found it inconvenient.

  3. Tim Mason at 12:25 am

    This is a very interesting article. I agree that nature is unique. Obviously, these creatures have been “milked” much like the rattler farm near my house.

    Seems like a pet a chronic pain patient would want to have.
    I will see what I need to get from Amazon raise some of these.
    Thank you for this information.

  4. Jean Price at 10:16 pm

    This really would sound even more promising IF we could count on it being used by our doctors when a person has persistent, “non-cancer” pain and when it’s appropriate to use to help decrease pan and increase their functioning. It’s really sad when something that could be promising for those with pain ALSO carries the potential for being restricted in its use, due to the unscientific and NON-MEDICAL reasoning we see happening now about the opioids we DO have!

    IF this chemical is also found to produce ANY effects that could LEAD to its abuse or cause it to become sought after,… illegally…by those who are addicted to illegal drugs,…then what’s the use of the research?! Unless we have a big change in the current government mindset of pain treatment and they stop all their “abuse/addiction hysteria” about narcotic medications in general, (which we KNOW work very well for many patients with pain…and which we ALREADY have ample types of)…well, THEN, why look for NEW ONES?? Won’t they likely end up being much more expensive initially AND also be denied or reduced to un-therapeutic levels for patients with pain…just as other similar narcotics are NOW!! Would A NEW OPIOID MEDICINE be used more often, LIKE whenever it’s appropriate…just because it’s new and costly?! I doubt it! (Unless money plays a role in the government decisions!). And if it proves to have similar qualities as heroin and morphine do for people who don’t have physical pain….the ones who only want to use it illegally to escape or dull their mental and emotions hurts…I would seriously doubt if people with physical pain who could actually benefit would even be allowed to!! Just like now!

    The saddest part of this is for those who have the types of persistent pain which other opioids don’t seem to help…maybe a new type COULD be effective for them! Yet, would they be allowed to use it?! Or would it also be restricted, like other opioids are currently! Overall!! So, the priority seems to be creating a widespread CHANGE of the thoughts on pain treatment…and going back to using all of what’s available and effective! (And leaving addiction out of it, as being a totally separate issue!). Then research like this might stand a better chance of really helping…by adding to the tools at hand, with more choices for our doctors and patients! Yet, first the doctors will need the freedom to make those appropriate choices again, with and for their patients…instead of those in government dictating and limiting medically sound good care options, and our insurance companies denying coverage for the better options!!

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