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Snail venom may offer a natural remedy for diabetes treatments

Harold Mandel's picture
A snail a natural treatment for diabetes

Researchers have discovered that venom which is extracted from a species of marine cone snail could may hold the key to developing ‘ultra-fast-acting’ insulins which could lead to more efficient therapies for the management of diabetes.


Diabetes is a very difficult illness to treat well. Researchers are constantly searching for ways to improve the treatment of diabetes.

Snail venom may help develop ‘ultra-fast-acting’ insulins

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute reports that snail venom may hold the key to better treatments for diabetes.
It may be possible to develop more efficient therapies for the management of diabetes with venom extracted from a species of marine cone snail. This venom could help to develop ‘ultra-fast-acting’ insulins.

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The three-dimensional structure of insulin found in cone snail venom has been found by researchers from Australia and the United States. This highly efficient natural protein which is called Con-Ins G1 can work faster than human insulin can work. The researchers have also discovered that Con-Ins G1 can bind to human insulin receptors and it therefore may be able to be used in a therapeutic agent for people.

Cone snail venom insulins work quicker than human insulins

Associate Professor Mike Lawrence, who is with Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, said his research team has discovered that cone snail venom insulins work quicker than human insulins. The cone snail venom insulins do not have to undergo structural changes which human insulins undergo in order to function.

This study has been published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. Dr Safavi-Hemami, who is from the University of Utah, says the researchers were excited to discover that the cone snail insulin had therapeutic potential in people.

There is now an interest in applying these findings to the design of new and improved treatments for diabetes so patients can have access to quicker acting insulins. It may really be possible to design therapeutic insulins which are ultrarapid-acting from snail venom. This is certainly an interesting consideration for a natural remedy for diabetes.