Puffer fish may help heroin addicts

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In the future, people addicted to opiod drugs, such as heroin, may be given a new treatment based on a toxin found in pufferfish.

Wex Pharmaceuticals is currently in a phase two clinical trial of a new drug called Tetrodin, which is based on the molecule tetrodotoxin (TTX) - the stuff that makes puffers so dangerous to eat.

The company says that the drug is fast-acting, long-acting and non-addictive. Tetrodotoxin is currently being evaluated as a possible drug for treating cancer pain.

Puffers produce the toxin when they are threatened, and its presence in the water can harm other fishes.

In many parts of the world the meat of the pufferfish, known as fugu, is specially prepared and eaten. Every year people die when too much of the toxin is left within the prepared meat.