These aren't your ordinary garden snails. Tiny cone snails may boast delicate and gorgeous shells, but they pack a powerful—and lethal—punch. The snails' venom can be fatal to various fish and even humans.
But it could also offer a potential cure.
Mandë Holford, a biochemist at Hunter College and the American Museum of Natural History, works with a team to investigate the snails' venom and look for compounds that could be used to treat pain and cancer. Ancient cultures have traditionally used their natural environment to look for cures for the things that ail them, she explains. Now, researchers are investigating how "nature's deadliest cocktail" could create new pathways for treating old problems.
A film by Science Friday
Produced in collaboration with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Produced by Emily V. Driscoll and Luke Groskin
Directed and Edited by Emily V. Driscoll
Filmed by Christian Baker and Dusty Hulet
Animations by M. Gail Rudakewich and Luke Groskin
Music by Audio Network
Additional Photos and Video by
Olivera Lab, Shutterstock, Pond5, NatureFootage, BioPixel, iBiology, Mandë Holford, Gregory S. Herbert
Guillaume van den Bossche, The National Library of Medicine
Laura A. Helft, Laura Bonetta, Dennis W.C. Liu and Sean B. Carroll - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Special Thanks to
American Museum of Natural History, Hunter College, Olivera Lab at the University of Utah
Baldomero "Toto" Olivera, Talia Amador, Devin Callahan, Sean Christensen, Mandë Holford
Gregory S. Herbert, My Huynh, Terry Merritt, Aubrey Miller, Kendra Snyder, Danielle Dana,
Chistian Skotte, Ariel Zych and Jennifer Fenwick
Science Friday/HHMI © 2017