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back to article Boffins prescribe SNAKE VENOM as future pain killer

The venom of the Black Mamba, rated the world's seventh most potent snake poison, has been suggested as a future painkiller for humans. A letter in Nature suggests the application is viable as the venom contains “a new class of three-finger peptides … able to abolish pain through inhibition of Acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) …

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Happy

Three finger peptides.

Able to Ctrl.Alt.Del the pain away.

(See your sysadmin if Windows persists.)

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Application Specific Integrated Circuits are indeed ...

... a pain. Ask anyone porting code.

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"patent troll versus Black Mamba"

That should be the new test for patent validity.

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Joke

Re: "patent troll versus Black Mamba"

Bite them both and the one who survives gets the patent?

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IT Angle

Re: "patent troll versus Black Mamba"

No, let them bite each other and the one that survives...

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Happy

Re: "patent troll versus Black Mamba"

I see Uma Thurman winning, preferably by using a samurai sword.

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Stop

Patent madness again

Surely the fact that the compound exists in nature is the ultimate form of prior art?

Or is it the manufacturing/purification process the "unique and novel" bit.

Why do I get the feeling that Big Pharma patents are at least as broken as Tech ones?

(Just so we are clear where I stand - In Your Face Ventnor)

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Re: Patent madness again

Big pharma has always been Broken.. *shrug*

And yes, it's the "discovery" of a naturally occurring substance that is patentable. You'd be surprised how much work and technology goes into isolating, purifying, and typing a *bio-active* substance that's often only present as a couple a molecules /ml.

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Re: Patent madness again

"the manufacturing/purification process the "unique and novel" bit"

In theory that should be it, and it would be possible to patent the process of synthesizing the chemical, such patent being limited to 10-15 years, and NOT possible to patent the compound itself.

In practice..... SIGH!

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Joke

Take zis pill, it will take ALL ze pain avay, I perzonally promise!

This really sounds like one from Igor (or Junior Postman Groat, for that matter). Mamba poison does kill all pain (quite quickly), along with the rest of you.

It also reminds me of the proposed surgical treatment for migraine (amputation of the head)

Still, kudos to the scientists if this works well.

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Devil

Can they actually patent the venom? I didn't think you were allowed to patent anything found in nature?

I'd heard about the idea of using snake venom as a pain killer before, but I didn't know it was moving along towards actually being done. Sounds like a good idea to me, since I doubt it's addictive... though speaking personally I don't want to live anywhere near the farms, I'm pathologically scared of snakes.

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Anonymous Coward

They will patent the mambalgic component

Especially once they can synthesize it. That's what it is ultimately about.

And yes, natural components have been patented before... see aspirin. It's a natural component, but has been patented.

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FAIL

Re: They will patent the mambalgic component

Well... that's bollocks... I can see patenting the process for producing it artificially, but patenting a naturally occurring substance? That's just bollocks...

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Happy

Re: They will patent the mambalgic component

Aspirin is rather a trade mark. But the real name is just to funny to remember.

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Anonymous Coward

Patents

Things that it should not be possible to patent (but sadly appear to be, these days):

* The medical use of snake venom

* The use of black mamba poison to produce medicine

* Using black mamba poison derived compounds to produce an analgesic medication in humans

Things that it should be possible to patent:

* A specific active compound or combination of compounds (in precise ratio) that has been clinically tested and proven to have an analgesic effect in humans.

* A specific non-obvious method for processing naturally occurring black mamba poison that results in a purified or other form of improved result - for example, that patented compound described above.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Patents

And that's exactly what will happen. The venom is no use. The analgesic component is useful and is patented.

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The method of extracting the stuff or synthesise it should be easy to patent as a commercial process ...

The compound itself should not be as the carrier venom itself is open sauce if you fancy collecting some for your chips ...

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Anonymous Coward

News

other widely used snake venom related drugs: ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) peptide inhibitors such as Enalapril et al. developed since the 1960's for congestive heart failure and hypertension. (key article by SH Ferreira in '65 indicated that the venom of the Brazilian Pit Viper (Bothrops jararaca) was a vasodilator)

Next they'll be trying to persuade me that aspirins grow on trees!

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Re: News

Nah, the parrots-eat-em-all.

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I see a resurgance in snake oil salesmen very soon.

How can you patent a discovery in nature?

Patent a unique process for extracting/synthesing the compound, but patent something that exists in nature should definitely be a fail. Although good news if this does work - but will it be suitable for vegetarians? :)

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Re: I see a resurgance in snake oil salesmen very soon.

Of course it will be suitable for vegetarians, for the same reason that milk and eggs are suitable for vegetarians: no killing required. On the other hand, it won't be suitable for vegans if produced by extraction rather than synthesis.

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Not just stop pain....

But ABOLISH PAIN, (AND THE CAUSES OF PAIN.....).

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Devil

New Process

They could make the factory in a decommisioned military base, make the snakes grow to giant size and super intelligent before extracting the venom. What could possibly go wrong??

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Re: New Process

That's an excellent plan with no obvious drawbacks. May I suggest that to avoid any potential road accidents getting the snakes to the decommisioned military base they should transport all the snakes on a plane (possibly with Samuel L Jackson on board to prevent mishaps).

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I'm not normally one to fight the corner of the patent industry and indeed wish a plague of boils on Apple, Samsung and their like, but in this case I'll make an exception.

This is a potentially useful discovery, one which is unlikely to have been made if there was no financial gain to be made. Remove the reward and no risk will be taken.

Only a fool thinks they have patented black mamba venom. They've patented a very specific discovery involving one of the components of the venom. That seems like something worth fighting for.

[pedant] Poison is ingested, venom is injected [/pedant]

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Coat

I can't wait for some company's patent lawyers to start taking black mambas to court for using their patented compounds without a proper license.

"Mr. Mamba, so you admit that you bit this mouse."

"Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss."

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I fail to see any downsides to this...

I fully support the notion of taking patent trolls and locking them in rooms filled with black mambas.

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Where is the surprise in this?

Bee venom is well known to help fix arthritis pain.

Bee venom is likely more toxic than snake venom on a per volume basis.

Why would anyone be surprised that snake venoms have similar properties?

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Happy

Re: Where is the surprise in this?

That's all very well, but the last time I tried black mamba venom it really hurt...

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Re: Where is the surprise in this?

The last time I tried honey glazed rattlesnake, it was really tasty.

Perspective and knowledge. They are important :-)

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