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Octopus Venom

August 17, 2010

Scientists think venom from Antarctic octopi may have pain-killing properties.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Toxic octopi…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Some animals produce venom for prey capture and defense, but these potent toxins also have medical applications.

BRYAN FRY (University of Melbourne:
You have high blood pressure treatments from snakes to diabetes treatments from Gila monster venom.

HIRSHON:
That’s biologist Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne. He and his colleagues recently discovered that all octopus species are venomous, and now
they’re analyzing the venoms of octopus from frigid Antarctic waters.

BRYAN FRY (University of Melbourne:
If you want to find a new and interesting toxin that has potential use as therapeutic, you’re more likely to find that from a novel venom, and at the moment we can’t find anything more novel than Antarctic octopus venoms. We’ve shown that they’re potently neurotoxic, they’re really, really potent on some of the nerve channels in particular, so they may have use as potential painkillers.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.