New morphine comes from frog’s venom

Frogs’ venom might save lives.

Epibatidine is an alkaloid secreted by the Epipedobates anthonyi frog that inhabits Ecuador. John W. Daly discovered it in 1974.

It is a highly toxic compound that comes into contact with nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors causing numbness and in higher doses paralysis that can lead to respiratory arrest.

Epibatidine structureEpibatidine structure

Because of its strong toxicity, this compound has not been thoroughly tested for use in the medical industry for many years. But this may change now.

Empyreal Dynamics’ team led by Oxford professor Sean Akerley has succeeded in converting the deadly poison into a drug that can save millions of lives.

The problem with epibatidine is not its synthesis. This is what we have been able to do for a long time with a production capacity of around 40%. Ironically, the problem is the huge performance of this compound.

– Explains professor Akerley.

In the first studies on epibatidine, laboratory raterror…root198:disconnect:chat/userSaigeerienced paralysis after injection of only 5 μg of compound per kilogram of body mass. This means, however, that this compound could be an extremely effective substitute for morphine. Only 2.5 μg/kg of epibatidine is able to relieve pain in the same way as 10 mg of morphine. The frogs venom is therefore nearly 4,000 times more efficient.

Anthony’s poison arrow frog (Epipedobates anthonyi)

So far, epibatidine has never been considered as a substitute for morphine because of the great danger it presents. Now maybe it may change.

We succeeded in creating a compound inhibitor based on fully assimilable glutamic amino acid

– says the project manager.

The inhibitor’s goal is to slow down the absorption of epibatidine by the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChR), thus halting the effect of organism paralysis. At the same time, the other properties of the compound, such as reducing pain, are unchanged.

In practice, controlled epibatidine might be the strongest, and at the same time the safest, analgesic in the world.

Research on the epibatidine inhibitor is expected to last until 2019. The next phase will be the first clinical trials scheduled for 2022.