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A deadly poison could help treat cancer

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It may surprise you to know that innumerable medications come from the poisons of all kinds of animals. Its paralyzing properties, or its ability to kill cells or microorganisms, is exploited by science to develop drugs that cure diseases or reduce pain.

Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the United States have discovered that the deadly poison of the cone snail serves to treat diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis or Parkinson. In fact they have found more than a dozen applications.

Although they seem harmless animals, some cone snails living on the seabed possess a powerful poison that could kill a person in a few minutes. When they detect a prey (almost always a small fish), they extend a long appendage called pobróscide, which has a pointed tooth at the end, like a sting. When you nail him to the surprised victim he injects a powerful poison that ends with it in a matter of seconds:

As a curiosity, this same poison is used in the second film of Jurassic Park to paralyze the dinosaurs.

Biochemistry Frank Marí and his team use a compound of the snail venom cone called conotoxin to nullify certain receptors of the cells, which produce inflammation. This conotoxin has applications in the treatment of cancer, tuberculosis, and Parkinson’s.

In addition a poison enzyme can be used to break down cell walls and insert drugs directly into the cells.

They are only some of the applications of the venom of the cone snail, which serves to demonstrate why we must protect at all costs animal species. Perhaps in one of those species on the verge of extinction is a remedy against cancer or an antibiotic that protects us against deadly flu.

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