University of Queensland pain treatment researchers have discovered thousands of new peptide toxins hidden deep within the venom of just one type of Queensland cone snail. Researchers hope the new molecules will be promising leads for new drugs to treat pain and cancer.
Professor Paul Alewood, from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, said the team used biochemical and bioinformatics tools to develop a new method to analyse the structure of the venom toxins, allowing them to delve deeper than ever before. "Cone snail venom is known to contain toxins proven to be valuable drug leads," he said. "This study gives the first-ever snapshot of the toxins that exist in the venom of a single cone snail. "Cone snail venoms are a complex cocktail of many chemicals and most of these toxins have been overlooked in the past."
Using their new method that involved accurately measuring and analysing the structure, activity and composition of the diverse range of proteins within venom, researchers discovered the highest number of peptides (mini-proteins) produced in a single cone snail.
"We also discovered six original 'frameworks' - 3D-shaped molecules suitable as drug leads - which we expect will support drug development in the near future," Professor Alewood said.
There are 25 known frameworks discovered over the past 25 years, many of which have already led to a drug or drug lead for several diseases.
"We expect these newly discovered frameworks will also lead to new medications, which can be used to treat pain, cancer and a range of other diseases."
The cone snail species studied by the researchers (Conus episcopatus) is found along the east coast of Australia and is one of 700 different species of cone snails.
"We anticipate there are a lot more interesting molecules to be found in the venom of other species, and we are keen to explore these using our new approach,"
"This new method of analysis can also be used in research on other animal venoms, or in related fields, such as studying protein expression from cells.
"It will help us gain a better understanding of biology, look for disease patterns or discover potential new drugs."
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Gemma Ward | EurekAlert!
Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells
12.12.2018 | Universität Basel
Smelling the forest – not the trees
12.12.2018 | Universität Konstanz
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Life Sciences
12.12.2018 | Life Sciences
12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine