Study finds all octopuses are venomous

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MELBOURNE (UPI) — Researchers from Australia and Belgium say they have determined all octopuses, cuttlefish and some squid are venomous.

The scientists at the University of Melbourne, University of Brussels and Museum Victoria said their discovery indicates the octopus, cuttlefish and squid share a common, ancient venomous ancestor.

Bryan Fry, director of the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit, said that while the blue-ringed octopus is the only octopus that’s dangerous to humans, the other species have been using their venom for predation, such as paralyzing a clam into opening its shell.

“Venoms are toxic proteins with specialized functions, such as paralyzing the nervous system,” Fry said. “We hope that by understanding the structure and mode of action of venom proteins we can benefit drug design for a range of conditions such as pain management, allergies and cancer.”
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Fry said that while many creatures have been examined as a basis for drug development, cephalopods (octopuses, cuttlefish and squid) remain an untapped resource and their venom might represent a unique class of compounds.

The research appears in the Journal of Molecular Evolution.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 20th April 2009

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