Latest Protein Spotlight: Sweet Poison

Where there is a will, there is a way. We have all faced situations that seem hopeless yet, given time and determination, we end up finding a solution. Nature tackles apparent dead ends by using the forces that drive evolution. In this way, features that could appear to be disabling - when considering predation, reproduction or self-defence for instance - are lifted by using well-chosen tactics. Take a lack of mobility, for example. Flowers cannot fly so, to reproduce, they entice insects with intricate scents, nectar and colours who unsuspectingly collect pollen in the process. Marine cone snails are able to move but, like all snails, are sluggish. Unable to pounce on their prey, they release a cloud of toxin - known as the nirvana cabal - that stuns their victim thus giving the snail time to catch it. Toxins that make up the nirvana cabal are of great interest to pharmacologists because they are diverse, rapid and specific. Recently, a form of insulin - Con-Ins G1 - was discovered in certain cone snails that use it to immobilize their prey by causing an insulin shock. More