Navigation Links
Cone snail venom controls pain
Date:4/4/2012

This release is available in German.

Hidden in the mud, the cone snail Conus purpurascens lies in wait for its victims. It attracts its prey, fish, with its proboscis, which can move like a worm, protruding from the mud. Once a fish approaches out of curiosity, the snail will rapidly shoot a harpoon at it, which consists of an evolutionarily modified tooth. The paralyzed victim then becomes an easy meal. It takes the venomous cone snail about two weeks to digest a fish. During this time, its venomous harpoon is also replaced.

Prof. Dr. Diana Imhof from the Pharmaceutical Institute of the University of Bonn, who is the project's PI, explained, "We are interested in the cone snail's neurotoxins, called conotoxins." They can be effective in minute quantities, interrupt the transmission of signals in nerve paths in a highly selective manner, and are thus able to block the transmission of pain very well. Consequently, these toxins are of great interest for developing analgesics for chronically ill or terminal cancer patients for whom other medications can no longer be used. "The advantage of these conotoxins is that they do not cause dependency," Imhof, a pharmaceutical chemist, explained. "Since the peptide we studied decomposes rather quickly in the body, we do, however, need more stable forms that we can administer."

Scientists replicate the rare venom in vitro

The Bonn researchers worked with Prof. Dr. Stefan H. Heinemann from the Biophysics Department of the University of Jena, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Age Research Jena and the Technical University of Darmstadt. "The -PIIIA conotoxin, which was of interest in this study, occurs only in extremely minute quantities in marine cone snails," said Dr. Alesia A. Tietze, the lead author, who received her doctoral degree on Prof. Imhof's team. However, the scientists were able to produce the specific venom chemically in vitro for use in additional analyses. Tietze added, "We succeeded in identifying the structure of different -PIIIA conotoxin variants and their different effects using nuclear magnetic resonance."

The venom in question is a substance whose different amino acids are strung together like pearls. "This string can form clusters in different ways, forming divers 3D structures," explained Prof. Imhof. Until now it had been thought that only one of these forms is biologically effective. "It was exactly this dogma that we were able to disprove," the Bonn scientist added. "We identified three active types of peptide folding with a similar effect there are probably even more." These variants do, however, differ slightly with regard to their biological efficacy, representing valuable starting structures for further development into analgesics.

Consequently, the scientists want to conduct additional studies in order to find out more these different fold variants of the -PIIIA conotoxin. But it will take years until patients may be able to profit from this. "We are still in the basic research stadium," said Prof. Imhof.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Diana Imhof
dimhof@uni-bonn.de
49-228-736-0258
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Ripple effect: Water snails offer new propulsion possibilities
2. UH Manoa researchers release results of statewide survey of snail, slug invasions in Hawaii
3. Snails and humans use same genes to tell right from left
4. Penn biologists demonstrate that size matters... in snail shells
5. National assessment done on potential invasive snail and slug pests in US
6. The fantastic armor of a wonder snail
7. Presence of snails points to forest recovery
8. Can you make a snail forget?
9. Sea snail saliva may become new treatment for most severe pain
10. Scared snails opt for single parenthood rather than wait for a mate
11. Female marine snails trick amorous males
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/29/2017)... CHICAGO , March 29, 2017  higi, the ... ecosystem in North America , today ... Partners and the acquisition of EveryMove. The new investment ... extensive set of tools to transform population health activities ... and lifestyle data. higi collects and secures ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. ... have received the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative ... ... Maldives Immigration ... Algeen (small picture on the right) have received the IAIR award for ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their ... The ... CAGR of around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately ... the market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2017)... ... June 27, 2017 , ... ... powder activated carbon (PAC)-based materials do not have negative short- or long-term effects ... site contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) located at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard ...
(Date:6/26/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 26, 2017 , ... ... that Melissa Kirkegaard, the former Associate Director of Product Development R&D at Allergan ... and pharmaceutical products at both start-up and established biopharma companies, has joined the ...
(Date:6/26/2017)... ... June 26, 2017 , ... Two new members were elected ... on June 9, 2017: Jeremy Nowak, President, J Nowak Strategy and Michele Masucci, Ph.D., ... the election of Glen N. Gaulton and Kenneth L. Kring, and re-election of David ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Ken Hanson, a medical ... Physik Instrumente USA, have been selected as this year’s recipients of two top awards ... have been invited along with other honorees to accept their awards at a banquet ...
Breaking Biology Technology: