Malaria is a dangerous and deadly disease. Some of its forms can still be deadly even after treatment with current parasite-killing medicines because of the persistent cyto-adhesion of infected erythrocytes even though the parasites in the red blood cells are already dead. 

Time has proven that available vaccines against malaria are now less than moderately effective. In order to treat severe forms of malaria, like Plasmodium falciparum, exploring a new avenue of severe malaria treatments is urgently needed. An estimate of 500 million cases of malaria and around 400,000 deaths are reported annually worldwide. Researchers of the new study believe that anti-adhesion may hold the key to significant improvement of malaria survival rates.

A new study suggests that conotoxins from a cone snail's venom can potentially treat malaria, Science Daily reported. The study offers valuable recommendations for producing new and cost-effective anti-adhesion or blockade therapy drugs to counteract the pathology of extreme malaria.

Also, conotoxins act as potential inhibitors of protein-protein interactions as a treatment for emerging diseases like COVID-19. Venom peptides from cone snails have the ability to use blockage therapies to treat myriad illnesses.

Conotoxins from Cone Snail Venom Could Treat Malaria

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University, National Institute of Standards and Technology, United States Department of Commerce suggest that conotoxins from cone snails venom. Their study leads to the development of new and cost-effective anti-adhesion or blockade-therapy pharmaceuticals to counteract the pathology of severe malaria.

The study, published in the Journal of Proteomics, explains that conotoxins could also be used as a potential treatment of emerging diseases like AIDS, and COVID-19 as they can be inhibitors of protein-protein interactions.

"Molecular stability, small size, solubility, intravenous delivery, and no immunogenic response make conotoxins excellent blockade-therapy candidates," said the corresponding author and biomedical science professor, Andrew V. Oleinikov, Ph.D. 

He added that conotoxins had been studied for many years as molecular probes and drug leads targeting the central nervous systems. Oleinikov noted that conotoxins should be explored for novel applications that aim to stop awry cellular responses.

More investigation should be conducted to continuously look for more efficient treatments for severe malaria, cancer, autonomous diseases, and emerging viral diseases where peptidic natural products from venom can be used.

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How Do Conotoxins Work In Cone Snails?

An extension of the well-known inhibitory action of conotoxins in many ion channels and receptors is the disruption of protein-protein interactions. Cone snails can disable their prey by modulating their prey's central nervous system, a ruling principle in the use of venom, according to EurekAlert!

Corresponding author and senior advisor for biochemical sciences at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Frank Marí, Ph.D., said that hundreds of thousands of diverse venom exopeptides had been selected throughout millions of years evolution of cone snails to capture their prey and deter predators.

"They do so by targeting several surface proteins present in target excitable cells. This immense biomolecular library of conopeptides can be explored for potential use as therapeutic leads against persistent and emerging diseases affecting non-excitable systems," Mari said.

The researchers used Conus nux collected off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica in their study. They found that the conotoxins from this species' venom disrupt the protein-protein and protein-polysaccharide interactions that directly contribute to malaria's severe form. 

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