by Corey Kostellic and Dante Murry; Farnsley Middle School (Louisville, KY

“I take 4 to 7 pills a day because of my back pain and I usually take them in the morning.” Dante’s step-dad has back pain and takes the pills in the morning. Whenever he is in pain, he is usually not happy. Dante’s step-dad’s spinal cord was injured in the army in a car wreck that injured his spinal cord. Dante is worried that his step dad could eventually get addicted to pain pills.

Could this creature help people with chronic pain? Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

There are a lot of people that suffer from chronic pain. According to WebMD, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and there is a lot of money spent for treating it.  The cost for treating chronic pain costs up to $600 billion a year in medical expenses

Chinese Red-Headed Centipedes venom shows great promise to relieve pain without having to take an addictive pain medicine. According to Professor Glenn King from the University of Queensland in Australia, “The Chinese Red-Headed Centipede has molecules in its venom that can block the nerve NaV1.7 (sodium channel) that makes you feel pain.”

NaV1.7 sodium channels are found in nerve cells called nociceptors that transmit pain. According to NeuroScience for Kids, “Sodium Channels are necessary for a nerve cell to fire, which may cause pain.” A nociceptor is a nerve cell that sends signals to the brain and that is how and when you feel pain. King had mice that were showing signs of pain. He milked the venom out of the centipede, put it into a syringe, and gave the mice a shot. When he did this, the mice showed less signs of pain. This work was published on October 1, 2013.

The venom is better than pain pills because people can get addicted to them. “Unlike morphine or other painkillers, the centipede venom compound didn’t seem to have side affects on the mice, or tend to create tolerance or addiction,” said King.  According to WebMD, “Any pain pills can have side affects like Advil, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen, they can have side affects like high blood pressure, dizziness, and rashes.”

 According to King, “There are no side affects in centipede venom, which means that your body cannot or will not be harmed.” He knows this because when he tested the venom on mice, he noticed that the venom seemed to not have any side affects on the mice or tolerance of addiction.

The physical signs of pain pill addiction include discomfort or illness after long periods of time when you don’t take the pills.

         Chinese Red-Headed Centipedes are located in East Asia, Australia and islands near Australia. Chinese Red-Headed Centipedes can also be located in areas like forests that lose their leaves seasonally, forests that have warm summers and cool winters, and mountains that are cold and snowy. There are a lot of areas like this in East Asia and Australia. Corey Kostellic and Dante Murry

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