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An alternative channel for pain relief

This paper reports the isolation of a new class of peptides from the African black mamba snake that can abolish pain through the inhibition of particular subtypes of acid-sensing channel (ASIC) expressed either in central or peripheral neurons. These peptides — called mambalgins — are as effective as morphine when it comes to pain relief but are nontoxic in mice and do not induce tolerance or respiratory distress. Their effect differs from the analgesia associated with previously identified animal peptides that can block ASICs, whose action involves activation of the enkephalin system.

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