PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Three species of large predatory cone shells whose venomous harpoon is capable of killing a grown man, but which may also offer an amazing cure. From right to left: the geography cone Conus geographicus, the Striated cone Conus striatus, and the textile conus textile. In defense against humans a different cocktail of venoms is employed - an unusual feature of the Cone shells complex toxin production. It can cause rapid paralysis and death in humans as it is a potent neurotoxin. Pharmacologically small doses of these complex venoms - called Conotoxins - are found to have remarkable posibilities for reducing pain - an effect estimated to be up to 100 times greater than that of morphine. They are currently undergoing investigation with a view to a clinical trial and marketing in the future.
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