Snail venom holds promise for cancer therapies

15 January 2015

A new study has found that snail venom could potentially be used to treat and detect cancer.

Professor Frank Mari, from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida Atlantic University's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, said that venom from marine molluscs like cone snails is used to immobilise prey such as worms. 

The venom selectively target cells in the body, which makes them of powerful potential use for drug development. In addition, it is hoped that knowing more about the venom will enable researchers to understand the human body's processes better.

One class of venom components, of which there are many, is the alpha-conotoxins that target  nicotinic receptors, which are linked to a range of diseases from Alzheimer's disease to lung cancer and schizophrenia.

Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the study focused on the the venom of a particular species of cone snail - Conus regius.

Professor Marí said: "Our aim is to open new avenues for cancer and addiction research inspired on compounds from marine animals."

Posted by ​Edward Bartel 

 

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