Novel Formulation Permits Use of Toxin from Rattlesnake Venom to Treat Chronic Pain

Crotoxin, extracted from the venom of the South American rattlesnake Crotalus durissus terrificus, has been studied for almost a century for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor activities and as an even more powerful muscle paralyzer than botulinum toxin. However, the toxicity of crotoxin limits its medicinal use. A new study, published online on November 20, 2019, by Brazilian researchers in the journal Toxins, shows that crotoxin's therapeutic effects can be enhanced and its toxicity reduced when it is encapsulated in nanostructured SBA-15 silica, a material originally developed for use in vaccine formulations. The open-access Toxins article is titled “Crotoxin Conjugated to SBA-15 Nanostructured Mesoporous Silica Induces Long-Last Analgesic Effect in the Neuropathic Pain Model in Mice. The study was conducted under the aegis of Brazil's National Science and Technology Institute (INCT) on Toxins, one of the INCTs supported by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation) in São Paulo State in partnership with the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), an agency of the Brazilian government. The INCT's principal investigator is Osvaldo Augusto Sant'Anna, PhD. The study was part of the doctoral research of Morena Brazil Sant'Anna, whose thesis advisor is Gisele Picolo, PhD. Dr. Picolo herself was the principal investigator for a project on the same topic. Researchers Flavia Souza Ribeiro Lopes and Louise Faggionato Kimura participated in the study, which was performed at Butantan Institute in São Paulo.
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