Conus geographus, popularly called the geography cone or the geographer cone, is a species of predatory cone snail. It lives in reefs of the tropical Indo-Pacific and hunts small fish. Although all cone snails hunt and kill prey using venom, the venom of this species is actually potent enough to kill humans.

A sea snail could provide inspiration for future treatments of diabetics. A sea snail produces a type of insulin, which have an extremely quick effect.

This snail lives in the deep ocean and uses insulin as a kind of poison to hunt for small fish. The insulin is used to stun fish and has an impact in just minutes.

The most rapid-acting insulin available to diabetics today need three times as long to have an effect. The problem is that human insulin molecules naturally clump together when inactive, and making them unable to have an effect, as they must be disconnected – which takes time once injected.

The insulin molecules produced by the snail is lacking the part that makes them clump together, which probably explains why it appears to be a lot faster.

The researchers now want to harness this knowledge to see if it is possible to produce human insulin more like the snail.


Source: John G menting et al, 2016. A minimized human insulin receptor-binding motif revealed in a Conus geographus venom insulin. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Doi: 10.1038 / nsmb.3292