Snail venom speeds pain relief

Jan Delsing [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Cone snails, such as Conus magus, or the magical cone, are predatory marine mollusks that use venom to paralyze their prey. The venom has properties that make it potentially useful to humans, too. Scientists have derived a compound called ziconotide from the venom of C. magus that has painkilling power up to three orders of magnitude stronger than that of morphine. Ziconotide also has relatively few side effects and a lower potential for the development of dependency and tolerance compared with morphine. But it has one big drawback: it must be administered by direct injection to the lower spine in order to be effective.

Lab Anim. (NY) 43, 152 (2014).
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