Scientists worked on Coral snake venom and found that the active ingredient in its venom is a chemical called as MitTx.
This research has been done by the researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and published online in the November 16 issue of the journal Nature.
Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener tener) is a brightly colored serpent and it defends itself with venom that can cause extreme and constant type of pain. Chemical, MitTx, which the researchers have found in the snake is a toxin made up of two halves i.e. MitTX-a and MitTx-b, which work together. When they unite, they activate proteins called as acid-sensing ion channels s ASICs. These channels work as gates and upon detection of acids, they open up and let the movement of ions into the cells resulting in firing of the neurons. They are triggered in tissue injuries, inflammation or lactic acid accumulation. Christopher Bohlen and Alexander Chesler found that MitTx results in a much stronger response from the ASICs leading to firing of sensory neurons over a thousand times strongly and for longer times.
Researchers have plans to work on ASIC in depth so that they can find the normal painful sensations without snake bite.
According to researchers,
These findings reveal a mechanism whereby snake venoms produce pain, and highlight an unexpected contribution of ASIC1 channels to nociception.
Christopher J. Bohlen, Alexander T. Chesler, Reza Sharif-Naeini, Katalin F. Medzihradszky, Sharleen Zhou, David King, Elda E. Sánchez, Alma L. Burlingame, Allan I. Basbaum & David Julius, (2011). A heteromeric Texas coral snake toxin targets acid-sensing ion channels to produce pain. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature10607