Insulin developed from sea snails

Insulin developed from the venom of a predatory sea snail could create more effective and safer diabetes treatment, according to an international group of researchers.

The venom of cone snails contains a unique form of insulin which works much faster than human insulin.

To introduce this fast-acting quality to human insulin the group identified key amino acids for the function of snail insulin and integrated modified versions of them into an adapted human insulin molecule.

When tested in rats, this hybrid insulin molecule had the same potency as human insulin while acting faster.

“We want to help people with diabetes to more tightly and rapidly control their blood sugar” says Dr Safavi-Hemami, from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, who is a co-author of the study.

The study was led from the University of Utah, USA, and the Walker and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia.

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