Snails respond to stress like mammals do. Similar stress responses in both humans and snails make the snail a perfect animal model for researchers studying this constant factor in our lives. Researchers found that when snails must cope with strenuous and varied stressors, their memory stops working. In the study, snails became stressed when they experienced low levels of calcium, needed for proper shell growth, and when the presence of other snails caused overcrowding.
Researchers at the University of Utah tested many toxins in the omaria cone snail’s venom and found that Om1A is unique because it fits tightly into some receptors but not others. This desirable attribute is beneficial because if a drug can be developed to mimic the shape of the toxin, it will be less likely to bind with the wrong receptor and cause unwanted side effects. This slow but steady work will someday hopefully transform the omaria cone snail’s debilitating bite into medicine that gives mobility back to people with Parkinson’s disease.