Scientists are now studying the way venom molecules from a diverse number of fishes might yield insights that could be turned into medicines that could help fight everything from addiction to arthritis. Biologist Leo Smith is one of a handful of scientists who are studying fish venoms for medicinal uses. According to Smith’s work, an estimated 7 to 9 percent of fishes, close to 3,000 species, are venomous, and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater. One newly described venom appears to act on opioid receptors, perhaps to stupefy its victims. And venom molecules that stall cell division and others that calm inflammation are inspiring new treatment ideas that go beyond pain relief. While successes in which venom directly leads to a medicine, are quite rare, many scientists believe the study of fish venoms can lead to breakthroughs in the medical field.
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