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Scorpion Peptide May Be Key to Secretory Diseases

Newswise — Researchers have discovered a peptide in scorpion venom that may hold the key to understanding and controlling cystic fibrosis and other secretory diseases.

In the December 28 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an international team of researchers describes how this novel peptide, called GaTx1, can control the movement of ions and water out of cells by interacting with a crucial chloride channel. This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

“Peptide toxins from scorpions, snakes, snails and spiders paralyze prey by blocking nerve or muscle ion channels so the prey can’t get away,” explained Nael A. McCarty, an associate professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Biology. “Those toxins have been enormously useful for studying the potassium, calcium, and sodium channels that they interact with, but this is the first toxin discovered that potently binds to and selectively and reversibly inhibits a chloride channel of known molecular identity.”

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