Although moderately mobile, marine cone snails have perfected several strategies to capture prey. Some fish-hunting species release venom into the surrounding water. Within the plume of toxic venom, the fish succumbs to fast-acting insulin that renders it immobile. As the fish flounders, the snail emerges from its shell to swallow the pacified victim whole.
Researchers at University of Utah Health detailed the function of cone snail insulins, bringing them one step closer to developing a faster-acting insulin to treat diabetes. The results of the study are available in the February 12 issue of the journal eLife.
“These snails have developed a strategy to hit and subdue their prey with up to 200 different compounds, one of which is insulin,” said Helena Safavi-Hemami, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biochemistry at U of U Health and senior author on the paper. “Every now and then, we learn something unique from nature and millions of years of evolution.”
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