Discovery and characterisation of novel spider-venom peptides targeting the human Nav1.7 channel (2014–2017)
Chronic pain is experienced by ~20% of the world's population. The human voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.7 is intimately involved in pain sensing and blockers of this channel are likely to be powerful analgesics for treating many chronic pain conditions. However, it has proved difficult to develop molecules that selectively block this channel without also blocking related channels such as Nav1.6 that have critical physiological roles in humans. Using a novel screening approach, we identified a subset of spider venoms that block Nav1.7 with much higher potency than Nav1.6. We aim to purify these peptides and characterise their structure and function with a view to engineering peptides that specifically target only Nav1.7.