A recent research study has shown that the venom used by the conus snail to defend itself against predators or to paralyze its prey before eating it, can actually help treat human diabetes.
The conus defense weapon is like a stun gun that injects a special kind of insulin into its prey and damages the immune system.
Researchers from the University of Utah discovered that the conus snails have special venom that could help with diabetes. The snail has a unique mixture of insulin a deadly venomous substance to paralyze its prey.
One of the authors of the new study is Baldomero M. Olivera, professor of biology at the University of Utah. He explained that the conus snail has a special type of insulin in its venom. This insulin is shorter than any other found in any animal so far. Professor Olivera added that this snail species carries a lot of insulin in its venom.
The venom that the conus snail injects can reduce the blood sugar of its prey, which affects the prey’s capacity to swim.
The researchers believe that the added insulin to the snail’s venom enables the snail to shoot at fish which debilitates them. The fish go into a hypoglycemic shock which stops it from moving, allowing the snail to escape. The debilitating venom is shot through an opening that is found at the snail’s mouth.
In order to understand how the snail’s defense mechanism actually works, the scientist analyzed the gene sequence from all the proteins in the snail’s venom. The snail’s official name is Conus geographus and the researchers discovered two gene sequences that are very similar to the insulin hormone humans and other animals have.
The researchers analyzed the venom in the laboratory and discovered that it contained a large amount of fish insulin. The scientists also found that the insulin found in the conus snail’s venom differs from other types of insulin because it only has 43 amino acids, which is less than any other types of insulin.
The researchers believe that the venom could be used to help patients with diabetes by controlling the blood sugar levels.
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