One of nature's slowest moving predators may be the source for your next painkiller. Venomous cone snails (or Conus magus) provide an amazing example of naturally occurring painkillers, albeit as part of a lethal cocktail.
Mandë Holford, an an associate professor of chemical biology at Hunter College in New York, studies the venom in these snails in the hopes of developing new and better drugs for humans. Along with colleagues at Hunter and at Indiana University, Prof. Holford just published a paper on how it might be possible to isolate the painkiller aspect of the venom and deliver it across the blood-brain barrier to more effectively control pain.
While the science of drug design is amazing in itself, I want to focus for a moment on just how crazy it is that these venomous snails exist. Watch this video and see for yourself how a seemingly innocuous shell (housing a cone snail) turns deadly when a fish swims a little too close.
KILLER SNAILS WITH NEUROTOXIC HARPOONS! Someone call Hollywood, STAT.
Here's some more geek from the week:
- Humpback whales don't just sing songs, they actually compose them. [AUDIO]
- New interactive website maps the global distribution of ant species. [INTERACTIVE]
- I, for one, welcome our robot jumping spider overlords. [VIDEO]
- Botanist students discover a new plant species on Facebook.
- Microbeads in your toothpaste and face wash are poisoning fish in the Great Lakes.
- PBR: not just a beer anymore - it also stands for Precariously Balanced Rocks.
- Great set of infographics on how the United States generates electrical power, broken down by source and by state. [INTERACTIVE]
- The FDA just approved the first 3D-printed drug.
- Japan is sending whiskey INTO SPACE.
- Check out Buzz Aldrin's expense report for Apollo 11. Even astronauts have to do paperwork.
- Step by step explanation of the Soyuz launch sequence to the International Space Station. [VIDEO]
Keep on geeking!
@Summer_Ash In-house Astrophysicist