Is snail venom effective in management of diabetes?

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner 

 
Succor may be in the pipeline for people suffering from diabetes if the findings of researchers are anything to go by. Researchers from Australia and United States have found out that the venom of Conus geographus possesses a highly efficient protein known as Con-Ins G1 which works faster than human insulin. This position was contained in recent publication of the Journal of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. The study also revealed that the protein is able to bind to human insulin receptors suggesting that it may be useful in the treatment of diabetes.

 

Diabetes is a disease condition where the body either does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or cannot use it properly (type 2 diabetes). The body requires insulin to enable blood sugar (glucose) to reach cells for use as energy. When the body fails to produce sufficient insulin, or incapable of utilizing it properly, the sugar stores in the blood.
The effects of high blood sugar on the body can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and amputation of toes, feet, or legs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an increase in number of people worldwide with diabetes from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. It is estimated that by 2030, diabetes will be seventh leading cause of death globally.

In this study, Mike Lawrence, associate professor at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, used the Australian Synchrotron to analyze the 3-D structure of the cone snail venom insulin protein. Prof. Lawrence said that “We found that cone snail venom insulins work faster than human insulins by avoiding the structural changes that human insulins undergo in order to function – they are essentially primed and ready to bind to their receptors.”
During the study, Prof. Lawrence explained that they found that human insulin contains an extra component that acts as a “hinge” that has to open before the molecule can perform the “handshake” with the cell receptor in order to enter. However, with the aid of the 3-D structure of the snail venom insulin, the team discovered a way to remove the hinge from the human insulin which could speed up communication with the receptor and help the insulin get in the cell much more quickly.
The study improved on previous work that found the marine cone snail uses insulin venom to capture its prey. The snail uses the venom to immobilize unsuspecting fish that swim into its invisible trap. The insulin-containing venom puts the fish into a state of hypoglycemic, low glucose level known as shock.
Dr. Helena Safavi-Hemami noted as follows “We were thrilled to find that the principles of cone snail venom insulins could be applied to a human setting,” and that cone snail venom insulin “strongly binds the human insulin receptor and activates receptor signaling.”
She concluded that “the next step in our research, which is already underway, is to apply these findings to the design of new and better treatments for diabetes, giving patients access to faster-acting insulins.”



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