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Breakthrough: The Killer Snail Chemist

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Description

These aren't your ordinary garden snails. Tiny cone snails may boast delicate and gorgeous shells, but they pack a powerful—and lethal—punch. The snails' venom can be fatal to various fish and even humans.


But it could also offer a potential cure.

Mandë Holford, a biochemist at Hunter College and the American Museum of Natural History, works with a team to investigate the snails' venom and look for compounds that could be used to treat pain and cancer. Ancient cultures have traditionally used their natural environment to look for cures for the things that ail them, she explains. Now, researchers are investigating how "nature's deadliest cocktail" could create new pathways for treating old problems.

A film by Science Friday

Produced in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Produced by Emily V. Driscoll and Luke Groskin

Directed and Edited by  Emily V. Driscoll 

Filmed by  Christian Baker and Dusty Hulet 

Animations by M. Gail Rudakewich and Luke Groskin

Music by Audio Network

Additional Photos and Video by
Olivera Lab, Shutterstock, Pond5, NatureFootage, BioPixel, iBiology, Mandë Holford, Gregory S. Herbert
Guillaume van den Bossche, The National Library of Medicine
 
Project Advisors:
Laura A. Helft, Laura Bonetta, Dennis W.C. Liu and Sean B. Carroll - Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Special Thanks to
American Museum of Natural History, Hunter College, Olivera Lab at the University of Utah
Baldomero "Toto" Olivera, Talia Amador, Devin Callahan, Sean Christensen, Mandë Holford
Gregory S. Herbert, My Huynh, Terry Merritt, Aubrey Miller, Kendra Snyder, Danielle Dana, 
Chistian Skotte, Ariel Zych and Jennifer Fenwick

Science Friday/HHMI © 2017

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