Sea anemones venom key to Multiple Sclerosis treatment

(Medical Xpress) -- Sea anemones use venomous stinging tentacles to stun their prey, but one component of that venom is being used by researchers to treat the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

A new class of drug treatment is about to commence clinical trials, as the result of a decade-long investigation by Professor Ray Norton, from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and his collaborators, who in the mid 1990s found a component of venom called ShK in the Caribbean sea anemone. The researchers found ShK blocks the Kv1.3 potassium channel located in white blood cells, known as T-cells, which are known to produce nerve damage in MS, one of the most common and debilitating diseases of the nervous system.

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