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Toxin Research

Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in the United States and the main reason for visiting the emergency department in more than 50% of cases. The aim of this project is to find new analgesics from spider toxins. In recent years, several ion channels have been found to play important roles in pain signaling and congenital mutations of these ion channels have been associated with pain disorders, such as TRPAl, and Nav1. 7. Successful development of new analgesics against those ion channels could overcome the well-known limitations relating both to efficacy and side effects of the currently available treatments, which could be the new hope for people suffering from severe pain in the future.

In another project, genetically encoded membrane-tethered toxins are used as a tool to investigate the functions of ion channels involved in regulating sleep and circadian rhythm. The importance of ion channels in sleep and circadian rhythm has become a topic of interest in recent years. Understanding the physiological role of ion channels in these processes could be important in developing new drugs for the treatment of sleep disorders and related diseases. Several spider toxins have been identified meeting this criterion and showing interesting effects on sleep and circadian rhythm.