Sea Snail Venom Could Lead to New Painkillers Sea Snail Venom Could Lead to New Painkillers

Chemicals found in the venom of the sea-dwelling cone snail are being used to potentially develop less addictive painkillers, according to researchers at the University of Glasgow, along with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

What to know:

  • The deep-ocean reef-dwelling cone snails venom contains chemicals called conotoxins, which the creature uses to paralyze its prey by blocking parts of their nervous system.

  • The molecular structure of the conotoxin peptide allows them to interact with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, causing the venom from a sting to affect human muscles.

  • How cone snail venom works on humans could form the basis of future drugs capable of blocking pain receptors in the human body.

  • A modified version of the poison shows promise towards development of new forms of muscle relaxants for anesthesia or painkillers that are just as effective as opioids but don’t have the same potential for addiction.

  • While stings by the cone snail are rarely fatal, they can have strong adverse effects and the research could also lead to the development of the first ever treatment for conotoxin poisoning.

This is a summary of the article “Venom from sea snails could hold key to future painkillers” published by Newsbreak on March 31, 2022. The full article can be found on

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