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Medicine from Animals Roundup

May 31, 2013

Some of the most useful medicines come from dangerous toxins found in nature.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Healthier living, thanks to sea anemones. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sea anemones are beautiful but venomous denizens of the coral reef. Their tentacles have stinging cells that allow them to catch fish. Now scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that a compound derived from the creatures’ toxin may help fight obesity. It’s called shk-186 and in studies on mice, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it prevented weight gain even when the mice ate high fat, high sugar diets. The compound also reduces inflammation, and shows promise in the treatment of other conditions.

In other news, scientists report that alligators can re-grow lost teeth throughout their lives, and the secret may lie in signaling proteins and how they interact. The researchers report that have now identified the key proteins with the goal of eventually replicating the trick in people. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Sea anemones. (Ernst Haeckel/Actinae Kunstformen der Natur,1904)