Snail versus Schwarznegger

“I’ve sent you an email,” said my younger brother. He smiled. I wrongly assumed that it would be a video of him firing a tennis ball past me from our latest on court battle (which I always win) or details of some trending dance fad. 

To my surprise I found an article attached titled “Snails are helping us unlock faster insulins”.  It was a interesting article about a species of snail called Conus Geographus aka the cone snail.

Let’s imagine a fish. This fish isn’t ordinary. This one is the Arnold Schwarznegger of the fish kingdom.  This fella might be small but he’s got shredded fins and ripped scales. No one messes with him. 

Now imagine a hungry cone snail cruising along in search of a meal.  It identifies the aforementioned “Mr Atlas” of the fish world and goes in for the kill, swallowing Arnie up whole. Hold on!  A cone snail going in for the kill sounds a bit bizarre……

I take a fast-acting insulin at meals times to prevent my blood glucose from soaring upwards causing hyperglycaemia. Although “fast-acting”, the insulin does take time to start working and because of this time lag, my blood sugar may rise and become high. It is quite tricky to get it right. Note that hyperglycaemia is very bad as it can lead to permanent damage to my eyes and other vital organs.

An even faster acting insulin could be more effective but I would need to be careful as it could potentially send my blood sugar way too low causing hypoglycaemia. If I was to go into a hypoglycaemic state I might not be blogging for a long time.

This is where our snail comes in… Amazingly the cone snail secretes a fast-acting insulin that sends Arnie the fish into a state of severe hypoglycaemic shock. In other words, it makes his blood glucose plummet and he becomes temporarily paralysed leaving him unable to avoid being swallowed whole by our snail.  It effectively makes the fish a type 1 diabetic who injected too much insulin! Wow. What an assasin.

The cone snail’s insulin lowers blood sugar much more quickly than my insulin. Its speediness means that it could well be a replacement for the insulin that I currently use. Imagine that, snail insulin in my body ewwww!

Rather unhelpfully my brother suggested I get a snail and lick it whenever I’m about to eat. No thank you.

Glucose upon publishing: 7.3mmol/L

7 thoughts on “Snail versus Schwarznegger

  1. You see, brothers do have their uses. Beating them at tennis and having you lick snails 🐌


  2. Fascinating story Antonia, using Arnie the Fish and Cone snail as examples is a great way to explain in simple terms.

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