I would like to draw attention to a specific case of bioprospecting, one which to my knowledge has not yet been looked into. I believe there may be a compound derived from the sting of the Bobbit worm, which could potentially have medical benefits to those, like myself who are in chronic pain. As someone who has severe nerve damage as a result of a car accident, I’ve already been treated with a substance that was found through bioprospecting, Botox. While Botox is more commonly used for cosmetic reasons, it’s mechanism of action is to paralyze muscles. This was somewhat effective in treating my condition, as many of the muscles in my neck and back are in a constant state of seizure. Therefore the introduction of Botox paralyzes these seizing muscles, providing relief for a variable amount of time.
Having already experienced the benefits derived from bioprospecting, I could not but be intrigued when coming across the odd story of the Bobbit worm. This is a somewhat rare predatory sea worm, armed with a variety of offensive and defensive weapons. What caught my attention, was that includes being covered in thousands of bristles which are capable of inflicting a sting resulting in permanent numbness in humans. Imagine the possibilities for those afflicted with pain that never ends. If this mechanism could be harnessed; it could improve the quality of life for so many people.
Should the mechanism of action, the chemicals involved in this process be discovered and exploited; I can’t help but think of the benefits which this could provide to those like myself who have areas of their bodies, which are in a state of constant pain. It would seem that the sting of the Bobbit worm could be used as a permanent anesthetic. While at once recognizing the benefits that this could provide, the cynic in me can’t help but feel that this is not an area in which any pharmaceutical company wold expend resources, after all where is the profit in curing pain, as opposed to treating pain indefinitely?
Pain killers are among the highest prescribed medications. They represent a huge amount of money for the pharmaceutical industry, however, they are also responsible for tragedy on a very large scale. Even those who utilize opiates as intended often become addicted. This is not even bringing into account the millions world wide who become addicted to these medications, who have no illness. As long as pain killers are needed, and so available they will be abused, whether through intention or just because someone is trying to fight the pain that threatens to envelop their lives and is dragged down by the very real specter of addiction.
How many lives are ruined, how many millions go into treatment? What if there were a way to permanently and effectively not treat but cure chronic pain? What a world that would help create for those whose daily lives are touched by pain and misery. Perhaps this is nothing but a dream. Perhaps the mechanism of action involved in the sting of the Bobbit worm cannot be controlled, or synthesized. Yet given it’s tremendous upside, should it not at least be investigated? This is at least my dream and I suspect anyone who lives day in, day out with pain would share this dream.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1165930/Barry-giant-sea-worm-discovered-aquarium-staff-mysterious-attacks-coral-reef.html#ixzz1CccS2dxi