Spider peptide Phα1β induces analgesic effect in a model of cancer pain

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The marine snail peptide ziconotide (ω-conotoxin MVIIA) is used as an analgesic in cancer patients refractory to opioids, but may induce severe adverse effects. Animal venoms represent a rich source of novel drugs, so we investigated the analgesic effects and the side-effects of spider peptide Phα1β in a model of cancer pain in mice with or without tolerance to morphine analgesia. Cancer pain was induced by the inoculation of melanoma B16-F10 cells into the hind paw of C57BL/6 mice. After 14 days, painful hypersensitivity was detected and Phα1β or ω-conotoxin MVIIA (10–100 pmol/site) was intrathecally injected to evaluate the development of antinociception and side-effects in control and morphine-tolerant mice. The treatment with Phα1β or ω-conotoxin MVIIA fully reversed cancer-related painful hypersensitivity, with long-lasting results, at effective doses 50% of 48 (32–72) or 33 (21–53) pmol/site, respectively. Phα1β produced only mild adverse effects, whereas ω-conotoxin MVIIA induced dose-related side-effects in mice at analgesic doses (estimated toxic dose 50% of 30 pmol/site). In addition, we observed that Phα1β was capable of controlling cancer-related pain even in mice tolerant to morphine antinociception (100% of inhibition) and was able to partially restore morphine analgesia in such animals (56 ± 5% of inhibition). In this study, Phα1β was as efficacious as ω-conotoxin MVIIA in inducing analgesia in a model of cancer pain without producing severe adverse effects or losing efficacy in opioid-tolerant mice, indicating that Phα1β has a good profile for the treatment of cancer pain in patients.

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