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How a lethal toxin might help in the opioid crisis

With the opioid crisis in the spotlight, scientists are searching for new ways to tackle pain. One group has turned its attention to a lethal toxin that occurs naturally in some marine creatures. The latest study in rats provides encouraging results.
blue-ringed octopus

A number of marine animals contain tetrodotoxin, including the blue-ringed octopus.

Opioids are a range of drugs that act on opioid receptors to quickly relieve pain.

Although they are effective and safe when people use them correctly, they are highly addictive.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States in 2017, two-thirds of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid.

In the same year, 47,000 people died due to opioid overdoses, and prescription opioids played a role in 36% of these deaths.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, 1.7 million people in the U.S. had “substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers.”

The statistics above underline the urgent need for a nonaddictive but still effective replacement for opioids.

Dr. Daniel Kohane, Ph.D., recently led a study by a group of researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts who believe that they might have found the solution in a lethal ocean-derived toxin. The scientists published their most recent findings in the journal Nature Communications