Killer Snail Venom

When you think predator, snails probably don’t come to mind. But the venom from a cone snail is so strong it can paralyze a fish in seconds. Now, researchers think a synthetic form of a toxin in the venom may help them conquer pain.

Pain Specialist:
“Nature provides so many answers to our problems and this is just another example of that.”

Cancer patient, Sallie Williams is testing out the new drug. She says constant pain puts a damper on her lifestyle.

Sallie, Cancer Patient:
“If I want to go outside and walk, I can’t do that anymore.”

Brenda, Daughter:
“You hate to see your loved ones suffer all the time, constantly in pain. If this is something they can come up with that’s going to give them some kind of relief where they can enjoy themselves, then I’m all for it.”

A pump, surgically implanted in the abdomen, delivers the drug directly into the spinal cord. The drug paralyzes the nerves that transmit pain to the brain.

This type of problem has never been able to be treated by any drug. In fact, the only other alternative was to actually destroy nerves that were involved. Obviously when you destroy nerves, you have a high potential of losing function.

Patients and their families hope the new drug can give a one-two knockout punch to pain. Patients with terminal cancer or AIDS are participating in the drug study at 30 medical centers across the country. If the drug proves effective, it could be in widespread use within two years.

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