They are considered a pest by gardeners, but snails could offer an alternative treatment option for chronic pain. Experts say the findings offer fresh hope for people who currently struggle to get relief from standard opioids such as morphine.
Researchers from the University of Utah used protein from the Conus Regius species of snail on a group of rodents. They found the effects of the venom were present for more than three days, sparking hope of a long-term relief option.
They found that the Rg1A compound used to kill a snail's prey - uses different pain pathways in the brain. Instead it seems to boost the nervous system and more resistant to developing chronic pain in the first place, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
'This compound offers a potential new pathway to prevent pain from developing in the first place and offer a new therapy to patients who have run out of options. 'Chronic pain, specifically in the back, is very common among adults and normally improves within a few weeks or months.
It is believed to affect four in five people at some point in their lifetime, with most cases being caused by lifting heavy objects or bending awkwardly. However, recent research has found that paracetamol often given to sufferers is relatively ineffective and opioids provide little benefit compared to placebo.
While new guidelines advised doctors to never prescribe painkillers to treat back pain. Patients should be content with massages, acupuncture, yoga, or superficial heat - even if the pain lingers up to 12 weeks. Only when the pain becomes chronic and lasting longer than three months, should patients turn to drugs as a last resort.
© Daily Mail