The lethal harpoon tipped proboscis of the Magician’s cone snail is amazing to see in action. For Dr. George Miljanich, the true beauty of this ocean dwelling predator lay within the complex cocktail of toxins in its venom. One of the toxins interferes with the ability of pain sensing nerves to send signals to the brain and thus held the promise of a new way to treat pain.
Historically, people suffering from debilitating forms of severe chronic pain had few treatment options beyond large doses of opioid narcotics. However, for many patients this pain is not adequately controlled by opioids. These patients received a new treatment option when, in 2004, the FDA approved a new medicine that is a synthetic copy of a toxin found in the venom of the cone snail (Conus Magus).
Dr. Miljanich was involved with the research and development of the new medicine, ziconotide, while senior medical director at Elan Pharmaceuticals. Currently, he is CEO of Airmid where he is focused on developing new toxin-based medicines for treating autoimmune diseases. Dr. Miljanich will lead a wide ranging discussion on the potential of developing human therapeutics derived from the venom from various species.