It may come as a surprise for most of us: the cone snail venom is lethal, but might be oddly beneficial in the future. Commonly found along the coast of Australia, the mollusk is one of the most venomous animals on the planet.
And not only to its prey. Some species are also lethal to humans. A feature in a nature themed magazine over a decade ago has described how only a few microliters of cone snail venom can kill 10 people. In fact, around 30 separate incidents have taken place of people dying after an encounter with the innocent-looking mollusk.
It’s not the type of pretty shell to be collected from the beach while it’s still alive.
Cone snails become aggressive when provoked, shooting a long appendage that pierces quickly through its target’s body and then injects the deadly venom. It instantly impacts the nerves and muscles, deeming its victim nearly unmoving and unfeeling.
The latter aspect of its effect has gained the attention of researchers, who have discovered a surprising cocktail of substances with several medicinal proprieties inside it. It appears cone snail venom is made out of conotoxins, a pepticide with pain relieving effects.
It could possibly be used in the near future in order to develop drugs to treat pain, cancer or addiction.
Further research was required, so scientists move to the next step. They acquired biochemical and bioinformatics devices in order to better delve into the venom’s configuration, activity and composition.
A good majority of the pepticides found have been ignored in the past, but with the deeper interest finally invested in the venom, scientists have found six new “frameworks”, or otherwise known 3D molecules that hold the potential for future drug development.
The researchers have declared their hope to find even more medicinal properties in the venom, along with other species that might have been previously overlooked.
It could be a new, interesting approach in drug development and advance research in medical fields who could learn more by studying biological patterns of diseases or lethal substances, such as venom.
Image source: brutenews.com