Conotoxins: Potential Weapons from the Sea
Peter D. Anderson* and Gyula Bokor
- *Corresponding Author:
- Peter D. Anderson
Randolph, MA, USA
E-mail: [email protected]
Received Date: September 09, 2012; Accepted Date: November 15, 2012; Published Date: November 17, 2012
Citation: Anderson PD, Bokor G (2012) Conotoxins: Potential Weapons from the Sea. J Bioterr Biodef 3:120. doi:10.4172/2157-2526.1000120
Copyright: © 2012 Anderson PD, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Cone snails are predatory marine animals that kill their prey with powerful venom. Conotoxins are a pharmacologically and chemically diverse group of toxins found in the venom. A number of species of cone snails, such as Conus geographus, are deadly to humans. Conotoxins affect numerous neurotransmitter receptors and ion channels in the body. The receptors impacted include nicotinic, adrenergic, NMDA, and serotonergic. Ion channels altered include sodium, potassium and calcium. The most lethal effect of conotoxins to humans is muscle paralysis of the diaphragm causing respiratory arrest. Numerous conotoxins are being used as research tools or being explored as therapeutic drugs. Concerns in the homeland security field exist that certain conotoxins could be weaponized and used an aerosol. Conotoxins at risk of terrorist use include α-conotoxins, κ-conotoxins and δ-conotoxins. Most conotoxins are not a bioterrorism threat.