Snail venom helped create high-speed insulin

The snail venom has helped create fast-acting insulin. The work of scientists from the University of Utah is published in the journal Nature Structural Molecular Biology.

For decades, scientists around the world have been trying to find an insulin analog that would act on the body much faster than the human version of this hormone.

Researchers drew attention to the venom of snail cones – at first, they tried to make the animal hormone look like a human hormone by inserting parts of its DNA hormone into the insulin that is produced in humans. However, it turned out that the insulin created in this way is 20-30 times weaker than humans.

Then the researchers decided to go the other way by inserting the genes of human insulin into the animal. Then, scientists added several unique chains of amino acids from mollusk poison molecules to it and tested the effect of these versions of the hormone on rats.

Tests have shown that the humanized version of insulin lowers the blood sugar level of laboratory rats as effectively as the equivalent dose of the regular version of this hormone. Moreover, he acted on the body of rodents almost instantly – whereas the usual hormone takes some time.

“The fast-acting insulin analog we discovered can reduce the risk of developing hyperglycemia and other serious complications in diabetics. In addition, it will improve the performance of insulin pumps, which release the hormone into the blood as needed. We’d like to give diabetics the ability to more accurately and quickly control their blood sugar”.

Elena Savafi-Hemami, lead author of the research