The black mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis polylepis, is one of the most lethal snakes on Earth. A snakebite may bring on a world of hurt, but a substance found in black mamba venom could actually relieve pain. The finding reveals a new possible approach for pain treatment.
The compounds, called mambalgins, appear to work by blocking certain channels in nerve cells. Under acidic conditions, these channels open up, triggering pain signals. By preventing the flow of charged atoms through these channels, the mambalgins stop pain signals in their tracks.