Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 8th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Snailing Pain
24 September 2017

Snailing Pain

These harmless-looking Conus regius sea snails are actually venomous predators. But they may slither to the aid of millions of people in persistent or chronic pain. Many sufferers take opioid-based drugs, which soothe pain by blocking pain receptors – tiny chemical delivery points in the body and brain. But opioids are highly addictive, so the hunt is on for an alternative. Scientist’s studying the effects of Conus regius venom on the nervous system made a surprising discovery – a chemical which blocks a different set of pain receptors. Then, another surprise: the effects of this potential drug are long-lasting, suggesting it might prevent chronic pain developing in the first place. It’s been tested in rats, but a slightly different design of the chemical may work in humans – a great help to those hypersensitive to the touch following chemotherapy, or suffering chronic pain as a result of nerve damage.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.