A new tool against brain disease

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

A shell from the venomous cone snail Conus omaria
(Image: Kerry Matz, University of Utah)

University of Utah researchers, led by J. Michael McIntosh, have discovered a new toxin from a venomous cone snail that may enable scientists to more effectively develop medications for a wide range of nervous system disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, nicotine addiction and perhaps even schizophrenia.

McIntosh says the OmIA toxin will be useful in designing new medicines because it fits like a key into certain lock-like “nicotinic acetylcholine receptors” found on nerve cells in the brain and the rest of the nervous system.

The article highlights possible uses for the toxin — but it’s likely to take 10 to 20 years to develop new medications based on what is learned from the new toxin.