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How the venom from a snail is helping researchers at the U create insulin

Cone Snail - Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY – The cone snail is a predator that lives under the sea, and a key ingredient in its venom is helping scientists at the University of Utah make a faster acting insulin. 

Researchers at the U worked for five years with scientists around the world on the new insulin. 

They discovered that the insulin released in a cone snail’s venom when it stings its prey drops blood glucose levels very quickly. 

It also has a lot of biochemical traits similar to human insulin. 

Researchers modified the cone snail insulin to make it more potent, then combined it with human insulin to make the fast-acting hormone. 

The scientists think this faster-acting insulin could become an effective treatment for Type 1 Diabetes.

Right now, synthetic human insulin clumps together so it can be stored in the pancreas. While there are several reasons why this may be beneficial for diabetics, people with Type 1 Diabetes sometimes need a faster way to restore their glucose levels and avoid hypoglycemia. 

This new insulin could potentially do that, according to researchers. 

Initial lab tests in mice have been promising, but years more tests need to be run before the general public could use it.   


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