In a study published in Science magazine, scientists report the discovery of a simple method of synthesis of tetradotoxin, the new method uses a glucose derivative as a reference product, consists of only 22 stages and provides an output of about 11 per cent, and argues that this is the most effective and only scalable synthesis of natural neurotoxin.
"Our method is not the first synthesis of tetradotoxin; however, it is today the most effective one, improving technology by a factor of 30", reported Professor Dirk Trauner, one of the authors of the paper, in an interview with Interesting Engineering.
Tetrodotoxin is the most poisonous natural neurotoxin known to mankind, produced in a number of marine animals, such as fugu fish, snails, octopus, tritons, frogs and worms, which is a mystery because scientists still do not fully understand how animals manage to store a dangerous toxin inside themselves.
Tetrodotoxin was singled out by Japanese scientists Yoshizumi Tahara at the beginning of the 20th century, and researchers around the world have since tried to synthesize this substance. For the first time, chemists from Nagoya University were successful in 1972, but their method included 29 stages and the synthesis of the final product was about 0.7%. Any further attempts to create this neurotoxin have resulted either in the creation of a highly unstable substance or have been even less effective, noting the authors of the new work.
Chemicals believe that an effective and scalable synthesis of tetradotoxin will help create a new class of effective painkillers that block sodium canals and are not addictive.
Tetrodotoxin has an interesting function of blocking nerve signals; these nerve signals are an integral part of the feeling of pain, and it is therefore considered that tetradotoxin can be a promising direction for the development of non-addictive next-generation painkillers.