Cone snail secrets enhance human insulin

Cone snail secrets enhance human insulin

Illuminate newsletter index page, June 2020
June 2020

Cone snail
The insulin-like venom from a cone snail could lead to
better forms of insulin as a treatment for diabetes.

Diabetes treatments could be improved following the development of ‘Mini-Ins’, a modified form of human insulin that mimics the ultra-fast-acting properties of cone snail venom insulin.

Mini-Ins has demonstrated significant promise in laboratory models, rapidly lowering blood sugar levels after meals.

The study was a collaboration between WEHI and the University of Utah, along with researchers from Australia’s University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, Flinders University and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Exciting proof-of-principle

WEHI’s lead researcher on the study, Professor Mike Lawrence, has been investigating insulins and their receptors for two decades.

Professor Lawrence said he was delighted the pre-clinical study had completed the translational step from a cone snail venom insulin to a human look-alike that was safe and well-tolerated by the immune system.

“Even at this early stage, Mini-Ins lowers blood sugar levels as fast as the current best treatments in use. With further development the response time could be made even shorter.”

Progressing a therapeutic

Professor Lawrence said the goal was to improve insulin treatments by shortening the timeframe it takes for them to work.

“Achieving this would help people with diabetes to more easily manage their condition, leading to better health outcomes,” he said.

The US-based biotechnology company Monolog is now progressing the Mini-Ins proof-of concept towards the development of a therapeutic version that is safe and effective in humans.

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