For Opioid Addiction, Sea Snails Come to the Rescue

Drug research is taking a plunge to the underwater abyss.

The nation’s opioid crisis has been declared a national public health emergency. Along with the Department of Defense, the University of Utah Health researchers are rallying together to combat the growing epidemic.

Now what to combat the disease with? You wouldn’t believe it, but it looks like they are utilizing venomous sea snails.

Researchers are considering as many alternatives as possible and these include the hundreds of sea creatures, including the species of cone snails. These predatory marine mollusks contain a paralyzing venom used during hunting. After stabbing victims with their toxic cocktail, they wait and watch, before stabbing it again for the final blow.

Researchers are trying to harness these ingredients, without harming humans with the venom. After a thorough analysis, researchers will figure out how to synthesize venom components to create prescription drugs. A previous study found that the venom from a Conus regius snail could potentially act as a pain killer.

Usually it takes 10 years to engineer a medicine out of a natural toxin but the grant provided for researchers will only last four years. This is a challenge that has been accepted by the diligent team of biologists and researchers all currently working hard to extract the venom.

It seems like nature is becoming the ultimate source of human remedies. Zoltan Takacs, an explorer with National Geographic is optimistic about this groundbreaking possibility.

“I’m really looking forward to what they’re going to find,” Takacs said in an interview with national geographic. “This is money well spent, a gold mine for new medications.”

Opioids have been tricking users into feeling relieved, but in reality it leads to addiction and abuse and can easily lead to overdose. 91 people die of opioid overdoses every single day in the U.S.!

It’s amazing to think that we are looking toward animals to help save our own species from addiction and in this case, down to the deep dark blue of the ocean.


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