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:5/6/2017)... , May 5, 2017 RAM ... announced a new breakthrough in biometric authentication based ... quantum mechanical properties to perform biometric authentication. These new ... semiconductor material created by Ram Group and its ... entertainment, transportation, supply chains and security. Ram Group ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... 2017 The global military biometrics ... marked by the presence of several large global players. ... five major players - 3M Cogent, NEC Corporation, M2SYS ... nearly 61% of the global military biometric market in ... global military biometrics market boast global presence, which has ...
(Date:4/17/2017)... Florida , April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, ... technology company, announces the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on ... and Exchange Commission. ... on Form 10-K is available in the Investor Relations section of ... as on the SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... ... While art and science are often thought of as two completely separate modes ... Mesh Is Also a Snare, a group exhibition presented by the Philadelphia-based artist collective ... on August 17 and run through September 30. An opening reception will be held ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... After spending the past two years building a state-of-the-art technology which ... offers this platform to healthcare stakeholders (hospitals, foundations, biopharma companies etc.) ... collection vis a vis their members, under their own brand. Three ... offer. ... ...
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... August 15, 2017 , ... Kenall, a leader ... designed to stay tightly sealed and perform efficiently for years. The downlights are ... listings just aren't enough, such as: hospitals; behavioral health facilities; cleanrooms; containment areas; ...
(Date:8/14/2017)... ... August 14, 2017 , ... ... interconnect using USB or PCI Express, announced the release of SYZYGY™, a new ... to satisfy the need for a compact, low cost, low pin-count, high-performance connectivity ...
Breaking Biology Technology: