« October 31, 2016 | Main | November 2, 2016 »

November 1, 2016

Long-Glanded Blue Coral Snake: Even Deadlier Than It Looks

Imrs

From the Washington Post

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

The long-glanded blue coral snake secretes a strange and exceptional venom.

The toxin is powerful — it has claimed least one human life — but what makes the chemical special is the way it paralyzes with blistering speed.

Thanks to this venom, the fire-headed animal is able to prey upon young king cobras, kraits, and other agile, dangerous snakes without killing itself on the hunt.

To venom expert and University of Queensland, Australia, professor Bryan G. Fry, such a diet earns the species a title fit for George R.R. Martin: The snake is a "killer of killers."

Cobras are quick to strike and deadly, too, so blue coral snakes must be quicker.

Like fuel tanks for its speedy hunts, the coral snake has two immense toxin glands — the largest in any animal — traveling along either side of its throat to its ribs for a full quarter-length of its six-foot body.

Coursing within these twin glands is a venom unlike any chemical previously discovered in snakes, as Fry and his colleagues recently reported in the journal Toxins.

And strange though it may sound, this deadly chemical could, down the line, lead to better painkillers for humans.

Specifically, the blue coral snake venom targets sodium channels, proteins that pass electrochemical signals from nerve cell to nerve cell or muscle cell to muscle cell.

These channels act like a switch on a flashlight, turning a signal on or off.

"This is the first time that a snake venom has been reported to act on sodium channels, which is really quite surprising," said Jennifer Deuis, a coauthor of the study and a researcher at the University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, in an email to The Washington Post.

The scientists named the unusual venom calliotoxin.

As the scientists described it in their paper, the compound is a product of a chemical arms race between the blue coral snake and its venomous food.

Snakes that eat snakes strike their victims, release the poisoned animals, and wait for paralysis to set in.

If your prey is a cobra, you do not want to wait long.

"The snakes are at extreme risk from their very dangerous prey," Fry told The Washington Post via email, "so they need to immobilize them before they get killed in retaliation."

Where the venom of mambas and cobras relax their prey into paralysis, the fast-acting calliotoxin jams open sodium channels, causing muscles to hyper-contract into what scientists call "spastic" paralysis.

As Fry described it, the difference in venoms — an inhibitory effect versus an excitatory one — is akin to that between morphine and methamphetamine.

But the long-glanded blue coral snake is more than a speed freak with a head like a jewel.

Sodium channels regulate signals in neurons as well as muscles, so the proteins are a crucial component of the impulses we feel as pain.

And a chemical that shut down certain sodium channels would provide pain relief.

Or, as Deuis put it, "blocking certain sodium channels in nerves is a promising therapeutic approach to treat pain."

The venom held within snake's glands, the scientists state, could inspire the development of a strong, non-narcotic painkiller. (Narcotics like Vicodin and other opioids, though they are effective treatments for pain, do not involve the channels. But due to the widespread abuse of these drugs, researchers are increasingly exploring other avenues for painkillers.)

Blue coral snakes are not the first venomous serpents to hold such promise.

In 2012, French scientists discovered the noxious cocktail that spurts from a black mamba's fangs was as effective as morphine for blocking pain in mice.

Yet sodium channels, which the mamba toxin did not affect, remained an important area of investigation for pain relief.

Chemicals that target such cellular channels are not as unusual in the invertebrate world of scorpions and toxic sea anemones.

Even a few snail species produce venom similar to the blue coral snake's toxin.

Although there is not yet clinical evidence the coral snake holds the secret to new types of toxin-based pain relief within its glands, researchers have successfully turned snail toxins into painkillers.

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved a drug called Prialt derived from a chemical injected by the fish-eating Pacific cone snail.

Like calliotoxin, Prialt alters the ion channels in cell membranes.

But the drug cannot pass a biological sheath called the blood-brain barrier, which means Prialt must be directly injected into the spinal canal.

The spine-based delivery, riskier than a typical injection into veins, relegated the drug only to extreme cases of chronic pain, like patients seeking relief after failed back surgeries or cancer.

Because the blue coral snake is a vertebrate, the authors of the new paper contend calliotoxin is worthy of investigation.

"The fact that it is from a vertebrate is significant," Fry said, "since snakes are evolutionarily much closer to us than invertebrates. So this physiological closeness means it is more likely to work better."

Lest you imagine drug makers raising herds of deadly snakes to milk their fangs, "the toxin itself is not a viable candidate for pain relief," Deuis pointed out.

Instead, a synthetic derivative would have to be developed and tested.

For Fry, the discovery stems from his "simple childlike curiosity" into an animal he has long regarded a favorite.

"It is impossible to predict where the next wonder drug will come from," he said. "If we destroy this biobank, there is nothing to withdraw for economic gain."

November 1, 2016 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beauty Lift High Nose Electric Nose Straightener

Beauty-lift-high-nose-japan-2-1 copy

From the website:

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Beauty-lift-high-nose-japan-2-1

 

Push up that nose of yours to create the perfect profile with this handy Beauty Lift High Nose, a beauty gadget that applies gentle electric vibrations from the bottom, side, and front.

Just slip it on and turn on the switch on the front of the frame.

While the supports hold your nose in place, the buzzing will help shape your nose into just that little bit firmer and higher.

All you need is three minutes once a day and you (and everyone else) will soon notice the difference!

A nose lift without the hassle!

Features and Details:

• Weighs 25 g

• Made in Japan

• 2.8" x 2.8" x 2.8"

• ABS, silicone, steel

• CR203 battery lithium battery included

• Recommended use time: 3 minutes per day

• Instruction manual: Japanese (but self-explanatory)

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

B

Way cheaper than plastic surgery.

$92.

November 1, 2016 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

« October 31, 2016 | Main | November 2, 2016 »