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Snail venom painkiller launched


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#1    MoorWalks

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:23 AM


A drug that harnesses the power of deadly sea snail venom has been launched in Britain.
Prialt is a strong painkiller designed for patients suffering from chronic pain who cannot tolerate treatments like morphine.

It is based on a toxin produced by a species of snail from the Philippines.

The snail uses venom to paralyze passing fish, but scientists found chemicals in the poison could also block pain signals in the human brain.

Conus magus, or the magician's cone snail, is one of about 500 species of cone snail.

It hunts by harpooning its prey and injecting it with venom before swallowing now-immobile fish whole.

About 25 years ago, scientists at the University of Utah, in the US, managed to isolate a molecule from the venom that also had painkilling properties in humans.

The molecule works by preventing nerve cells from sending pain signals to the brain.

Extreme pain

Now researchers have created a synthetic version of the compound with similar pain-killing effects, and it forms the basis of this new drug, Prialt.

Prialt is injected directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord through a small pump worn by the patient.

It is to be used for those suffering extreme chronic pain - such as cancer patients - for whom morphine is ineffective or unsuitable.

It was approved for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, and marketing authorisation was granted by the European Union in 2005. It is the first injected non-opioid painkiller to be used in Europe.

Prialt is manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai Co Ltd.

Scientists think cone snails may yield more medicines - and teams are looking at the venoms in different species to see if they can isolate compounds to treat diseases including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

But the creatures are under threat - their beautiful shells make them a prize-target for shell collectors.

Dr Jon-Paul Bingham, a neuroscientist from Clarkson University in New York, said the drug had been well received in the US and he had great hope for finding even more cone snail venom-based compounds in the future.

He said: "These snails are nature's pharmaceutical drug designers. And with Prialt we are really only touching the surface tip of the iceberg of what they can do.

"We estimate there are 75,000 compounds out there that could have some potential use in all kinds of applications.

"The issue is that there are only a few of us who have access to the material. The species are very rare, so we have to do it in a very bio-sustainable manner."

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#2    __Kratos__

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 11:43 AM

This is great news. When debating 'euthanasia' with Bone_Collector, he brought this to my attention. It really is a shame that the snail is rare because I believe this stuff is many times more power then morphine and it isn't addictive (I could be wrong). I'm really hoping we can find a way to make the venom in a lab to use for production so it'll be more wide spread for patients. Thanks for the post, XSAS. thumbsup.gif

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#3    frogfish

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 12:40 PM

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It really is a shame that the snail is rare because I believe this stuff is many times more power then morphine and it isn't addictive

The snail isn't rare..cone shells are one of the most common types of snails, sadly they have a very deadly poison. You can find them from Miami to Australia...

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#4    MoorWalks

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 01:50 PM

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The snail isn't rare..cone shells are one of the most common types of snails, sadly they have a very deadly poison. You can find them from Miami to Australia...


The article does state that therer are over 500 species of cone shell, therefore cone shells as a whole are not rare.. however I suspect the Conus magus is relatively rare.

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#5    frogfish

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 09:35 PM

The venom of all cone shells act the same..they are all neurotoxins...and very similar...

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#6    lowbro

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 10:52 PM

I got told that cone shell "venom" has different protein signatures that are different in each individual?As in each individual makes a different venom to the next. That is why its almost impossible to have a anti-venine for a sting, provided you make it to the hospital cause cone shell venom doesn't mess around.



#7    BurnSide

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Posted 11 July 2006 - 10:55 PM

I remember watching a something on 'Daily Planet' about a year about about this very same treatment. At the time, the snails were being collected for research. They documented the painstaking procedure of coaxing the snail to release it's venom into a tube to be collected.
It's remarkable to see the fruits of the labour!


#8    frogfish

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 01:25 AM

Quote

I remember watching a something on 'Daily Planet' about a year about about this very same treatment. At the time, the snails were being collected for research. They documented the painstaking procedure of coaxing the snail to release it's venom into a tube to be collected.
It's remarkable to see the fruits of the labour!

You should see them milking snakes...

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#9    MoorWalks

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 07:31 AM

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The venom of all cone shells act the same..they are all neurotoxins...and very similar...


Most venomous snakes and spiders also have neurotoxins.. I think the chemical breakdown for this snail might be a little more complex than neurotoxin?

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#10    frogfish

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 12:20 PM

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Most venomous snakes and spiders also have neurotoxins.. I think the chemical breakdown for this snail might be a little more complex than neurotoxin?

Cone snails do not have hemotoxic venom though...I am pretty sure...

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