One of the most deadly poisons in the world is tetrodotoxin, which in large quantities contained in the puffer fish, the eggs of the California newt and other animals. As a rule, death in cases of poisoning with this poison is due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles, but scientists believe that with proper dosing, it can serve as a great anesthetic with a long lasting effect. It seems that in the future the anesthetic on the basis of fugu poison is definitely coming — researchers from Boston children’s hospital invented a way to control the dose, so it does not cause any harm.
Previously, medical professionals have tried to apply the fugu poison to eliminate severe pain in leprosy and inoperable tumor. They did manage to establish a safe dose of the toxin that it effectively eliminated the pain and didn’t hurt patients, but because of the potential danger and the availability of analogs in the form of novocaine, its use was suspended.
Despite this, the work on the creation of anesthetic on the basis of tetrodotoxin does not stop. The fugu poison is interesting because its molecules effectively block the nerve fibers and inhibit their impulses scientists could create the technology that controls the amount and provides a safe anesthetic effect lasting several days.
Tetrodotoxin turned into anesthetic
A big break in this case were made by employees of Boston children’s hospital, led by Professor Daniel Cohanim. To control the speed of ejection of the poison to a certain point of the body, they mixed it with a biodegradable polymer, and subsequently controlled the duration of the release provided long-lasting anesthetic effect. The experiment was conducted on lab rats.
The lesson we learned is that with our previous systems the delivery of an anesthetic substance spread too quickly, which could lead to poisoning. This time we have introduced this amount of tetrodotoxin that it would be enough to kill a rat a few times, but thanks to the controlled introduction of the animal it didn’t even feel it, — said Daniel Cohanim.
Even though the researchers used a fairly large amount of poison, it was still less than in previous attempts. To maintain the efficiency of the substance with such a reduced dose was possible thanks to the addition of chemical amplifier permeability — tetrodotoxin easier penetrated into tissue, and act maximally concentrated.
Local anesthetics on the basis of the poison — almost a reality
The effectiveness of the new composition of the anesthetic was tested only in animals, but testing gave very encouraging results. The researchers introduced a substance in the rat sciatic nerve, and through the polymer and its permeability amplifier sensitivity was blocked for the last three days. The researchers suggest that in the case of men, anesthetic effect will last for the whole week, but before testing substances on humans it is important to check the safety of the method more thoroughly.
The symptoms of tetrodotoxin poisoning
If in case of an error the tetrodotoxin enters the body too quickly, it will immediately lead to poisoning and possible death. Symptoms occur within 10-15 minutes and include itching, profuse salivation, vomiting, loss of skin sensitivity and, ultimately, paralysis of the respiratory system.
The first case of tetrodotoxin poisoning was registered in 1774 — the case was described in the book “the Journey to the South pole and around the world” English sailor James cook. The poisoning occurred in New Caledonia, when he and his companions tried out a dish of local fish and felt severe weakness and numbness. Fortunately, they received a small dose of the toxin and recovered after the gag means, but the pig, which was the remnants of meals have died.
A dish of fugu fish
Dishes from fugu fish to this day are prepared in Japan. However, permission to cook and sell these dishes can be obtained only after three years of study and receive the confirmation of the license. These measures were designed to cook have learned to thoroughly clean the fish from the deadly tetrodotoxin — if the food will stay at least the slightest part, of the poisoning of visitors of restaurants just can not be avoided.
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