Insulin from marine cone snail venom has a unique structure that enables it to more rapidly control blood sugar.

Benefits

  • Faster‑acting insulin
  • Responsive

Applications

  • Medical treatment

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

The Challenge

Millions of people suffer from Type-1 diabetes, a disease in which the body cannot produce , a that helps control blood sugar. In order to stay healthy, patients must take daily insulin injections to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, common insulin products often have a delay in their effects, making it challenging for users to predict and accurately control their blood sugar.

 

Innovation Details

Human insulin contains two parts, A and B chains. The B chain enables the body to store insulin for later use and provides a signal for the body to start taking up sugar from the blood. Manufactured insulin contains the B chain in order to active the receptors, but this also delays how quickly the drug can start working. Researchers discovered a new type of insulin from marine cone snail venom that does not contain a B chain. Without this sticky B chain, the insulin can act faster. This insulin is also able to activate human insulin receptors, although it is 10-20 times less potent than human insulin.

Biomimicry Story

Marine cone snails catch food by injecting a potent venom that paralyzes the prey. The venom contains over 200 different compounds, one of which is insulin. It works by lowering the prey’s blood sugar effectively and rapidly, causing it to go into hypoglycemic shock.