Science

Diabetes: insulin found in cone snail venom could be an effective treatment

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Type 1 diabetics can do without daily insulin injections thanks to the venom of the cone snail, which contains fast-acting insulin. In the past, researchers have used geographer’s cone snail insulin, but it turns out that the Kinoshita cone produces insulin of a more specific anatomy. With a unique extension that binds to receptors but does not clump, marine-derived insulin thus could serve as a basis for drug development for type 1 diabetes. Researchers have yet to test its safety and stability and consider its safety. clinical trials in humans.

Insulin, essential for lowering blood sugar levels, is a peptide hormone found in all animals. In vertebrates (including humans), insulin is secreted as a hexamer, which dissociates into a dimer and then into a monomer that activates the insulin receptor.

However, compared to the physiological release of insulin in non-diabetic people, insulin injected under the skin of diabetics is slower to act. It is for this reason that patients should be given insulin well in advance of meals.

Sea cone snails: their venom contains fast-acting insulin

The solution may lie in the poison secreted by cone snails, which contains fast-acting insulin. Indeed, about 1,000 existing species of marine cone snails use complex venoms to capture their prey: fish, worms, or other snails. Composed primarily of paralyzing neurotoxins, these poisons contain other molecules. “We have previously shown that some species also use insulin as part of their toxin arsenal,” the researchers wrote in the new study, published in Nature Chemical Biology.

“Poisonous insulins quickly bind to and activate the victim’s insulin receptors and therefore cause dangerously low blood glucose levels, making the poisoned animal unable to escape. Thus, Venom insulins have unique structural and functional properties that provide very fast action.” This could be used to develop poisonous insulin preparations that make life easier for type 1 diabetics who still have to inject the hormone daily.

Creating a hybrid devoid of the adhesion region of the human version

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