January 15, 2012
Cone Snail Venom
The Cone Snail is an amazing creature. After more than 20 years of research, a Filipino scientist has discovered that this sea dweller may hold the key to some of the world’s most critical diseases. With years of research and countless hours of studies, could the solutions to many of the world’s most painful and debilitating illnesses lay inside the venom of a deadly, yet beautiful multicolored sea snail measuring fewer than 9 inches in length? Cone Snail Venom is now the treatment for chronic pain relief and is available to comfort those who get no relief from conventional medications. In the discovery of the Cone Snail, Dr. Baldomero Olivera never would have guessed it would lead to such a medical breakthrough in modern medicine. At an early age, growing up in the Philippines, Olivera had a strong fascination with the stunning snail. After graduating from Sanford University, he returned to his home country, with the same allure for those snails. Upon his return, he began researching the Cone Snail, with a desperate need to know why this snail could kill so many people. Through his research he found that the Cone Snail was so lethal because of the over 100 different toxins found in its venom. Olivera later returned to the U.S. taking a job as a professor at the University of Utah. With a team of scientists, he continued his research. He extracted the venom from the snails, found in the tropical reefs of the Philippine waters. Using the venom, he examined each component. With the help of lab rats, Olivera and his group tested the different toxins, noting that each one, within the venomous mixture caused a different reaction in the rats. The discoveries made knocked the medical world on its ear! For the findings made by Dr. Olivera and his team, he decided to use his first language, Filipino, to name his results. One component he named “Conantukin” because it caused a...