Scientists use sea snail venom to make new faster and safer type of insulin

Insulin has been saving lives since the first diabetes sufferers were injected with it in the 1920s, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. That is the attitude with which a group of scientists from the University of Utah has embarked on the quest to make diabetes treatment safer and more effective.

To do this, the researchers have taken an interesting, nature-inspired angle, borrowing useful elements of cone snail venom to produce a potent hybrid “mini-insulin” that acts far more swiftly and could make treating diabetes far more effective as a result.

The reason the scientists were lured toward the humble cone snail as part of their research is due to the creature’s cunning approach to trapping its prey. When a potential dinner is sighted, the mollusks are able to release plumes of venomous cocktails that paralyze fish by causing sharp drops in their blood sugar levels.

This is due to a form of fast-acting insulin contained within the cocktail, which induces a type of hypoglycemic sedation in the fish. The reason it acts almost instantly is that the cone snail venom is missing the components of human insulin that require the hormone to break apart before it can perform its role of keeping blood sugar levels in check in sufferers of diabetes.

Conversely, the cone snail venom comes primed and ready to act. The same research team found, through laboratory experiments in 2016, that this cone snail insulin was capable of latching onto human insulin receptors, raising the prospect of a faster-acting form of insulin for treating diabetes.

With some hurdles along the way, the scientists managed to eventually develop a version of human insulin without the components that cause clumping, but including four amino acids isolated from the cone snail venom.

The result was what the scientists describe as the world’s smallest fully-functional version of a hormone, which they’ve dubbed “mini-insulin.” Laboratory tests showed that the new hybrid insulin offered the same level of potency, but with a much faster-acting nature.

If the team’s fast-acting hybrid insulin can be adapted for use in humans, which will involve a great deal more investigation, it could make managing blood-sugar levels more efficient, while also lessening the risk of complications like hyperglycemia.

Solution News Source

Scientists use sea snail venom to make new faster and safer type of insulin

Insulin has been saving lives since the first diabetes sufferers were injected with it in the 1920s, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. That is the attitude with which a group of scientists from the University of Utah has embarked on the quest to make diabetes treatment safer and more effective.

To do this, the researchers have taken an interesting, nature-inspired angle, borrowing useful elements of cone snail venom to produce a potent hybrid “mini-insulin” that acts far more swiftly and could make treating diabetes far more effective as a result.

The reason the scientists were lured toward the humble cone snail as part of their research is due to the creature’s cunning approach to trapping its prey. When a potential dinner is sighted, the mollusks are able to release plumes of venomous cocktails that paralyze fish by causing sharp drops in their blood sugar levels.

This is due to a form of fast-acting insulin contained within the cocktail, which induces a type of hypoglycemic sedation in the fish. The reason it acts almost instantly is that the cone snail venom is missing the components of human insulin that require the hormone to break apart before it can perform its role of keeping blood sugar levels in check in sufferers of diabetes.

Conversely, the cone snail venom comes primed and ready to act. The same research team found, through laboratory experiments in 2016, that this cone snail insulin was capable of latching onto human insulin receptors, raising the prospect of a faster-acting form of insulin for treating diabetes.

With some hurdles along the way, the scientists managed to eventually develop a version of human insulin without the components that cause clumping, but including four amino acids isolated from the cone snail venom.

The result was what the scientists describe as the world’s smallest fully-functional version of a hormone, which they’ve dubbed “mini-insulin.” Laboratory tests showed that the new hybrid insulin offered the same level of potency, but with a much faster-acting nature.

If the team’s fast-acting hybrid insulin can be adapted for use in humans, which will involve a great deal more investigation, it could make managing blood-sugar levels more efficient, while also lessening the risk of complications like hyperglycemia.

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