Native to the Caribbean, the sun anemone uses stinging cells in its tentacles to deliver venom to its prey, stunning small fish and other sea creatures before shoveling them into its mouth. Anemone venom peptides continue to pique the interest of scientists. One promising compound forms the basis of an experimental drug called dalazatide that’s ready to undergo phase II clinical trials for treating autoimmune disease.
Instead of suppressing the whole immune system like existing drugs, it very selectively blocks an ion channel in the particular type of immune cells that go haywire in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus. Kineta, a Seattle-based biotechnology company, is developing the drug.