Dr. Baldomero Olivera said that the ruthless fish-eating snail is a cure for those suffering from chronic back pain.
He is planning to present his findings at the Philadelphia Shell Show. Venomous cone snails, with their striking patterns and elegant shapes, will be among thousands of eye-catching shells on display and for sale at the annual event, the largest shell show in the Northeast, held Saturday and Sunday, October 7-8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at The Academy of Natural Sciences. Dr. Baldomero Olivera, professor of biology and neuroscientist at the University of Utah, will talk about the deadly cone snails and their potential to aid humans, on Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. in the auditorium.
The Shell Show and the presentation are free with museum admission. While seashells have never gone out of style, they are enjoying a popular resurgence as nautical themes are turning up in home furnishings, décor, jewelry, crafts and artworks. Shell dealers from Brazil, South Africa and the U.S. will display their collections and offer a variety of items for sale. There will be free shells for children and the chance to meet SpongeBob SquarePants from Nickelodeon. Academy scientists will give behind-the-scenes tours of the museum's world-renowned Malacology Collection and will be on hand to answer questions or identify visitors' own shell collections.
The authors--all from the Philadelphia region--of a newly published coffee table book called Sailors' Valentines: Their Journey through Time will be available to sign copies of the book. For years Olivera has been working with cone snail venom to develop a drug that would provide relief to people with chronic pain. He also has been working in his native Philippines. There are more than 500 species of cone snails, which are found in warm seas worldwide. Each species produces many different venoms, most of which are not harmful to humans.