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A Potential Future Pain Medication

Stinging Nettle Tree Toxin

The stinging nettle, a tree native to New Zealand, has toxins so poisonous that it can cause pain for days and even be fatal. So why are University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) researchers studying it? The Journal of Biological Chemistry reports than, much like venom from animals has been studied for its potential in healing, plants may be utilized for the same reason. First researchers determined that there are two classes of peptide toxins in the stinging nettle responsible for the pain of the stings.

Coauthor Professor Irina Vetter, Director of IMB's Centre for Pain Research, commented, “Animal venoms have been studied for decades but plants have evolved toxins differently, and this gives us a chance to find molecules that work in a unique way. Our goal is to tackle pain more effectively without side effects and addiction." The researchers plan to travel the world to learn more about the hundreds of nettle plants in the Urticaceae family and how they inflict pain via toxins.


Read the journal article.

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Holly Caster