Caterpillar venom makes holes in cells, and if research progresses, it may be useful in drug discovery fields such as cancer drugs
Many people have experienced swelling of the skin after being stung by a caterpillar. It has become clear that the poison of some caterpillars has the effect of making holes in cells. In addition, the possibility that caterpillar venom evolved from bacterial venom has emerged.
Horizontal gene transfer underlies the painful stings of asp caterpillars (Lepidoptera: Megalopygidae) | PNAS
Caterpillar venom study reveals toxins borrowed from bacteria - UQ News - The University of Queensland, Australia
When we hear the word ``poison'', the first thing that comes to mind is a harmful image, but the venom of animals also serves as a source of molecules that are useful in the fields of medicine and agriculture. It has the potential to be useful. A research team at the University of Queensland analyzed the components of the poison secreted by the moth larvae called 'Megalopyge opercularis'.
Asp is a moth larva covered with long hair like the following, and the hair contains poison. Asp hairs are known to cause 'severe burning sensations and rashes' when attached to the skin.
As a result of the research team's analysis of Asp's poison, it was found that Asp's poison has the effect of 'piercing cells'. Andrew Walker, a member of the research team, said, ``The poison of Asp was completely different from the insect poisons that have been confirmed so far,'' emphasizing its specificity.
As a result of further analysis, it was also found that the proteins that make up Asp venom and some bacterial venom are similar. From this, the research team speculates that Asp's venom evolved from bacterial venom.
“Toxins that puncture cells have the ability to enter cells, which is why they may work effectively in drug delivery,” Walker said. Or we may be able to derive a means to selectively attack cancer cells.'
In addition, there are multiple examples of utilizing animal poisons for drug development. For example, in 2020, a pain reliever with few side effects was developed from poisonous spider venom.
Expected as an alternative to opioids, an analgesic with less side effects and dependence will be developed from ``venom of poisonous spiders''-GIGAZINE