Fanged Fish Drugs Attackers with Heroin-Like Venom
Fang blennies — colorful Pacific region fish — in the Meiacanthus genus may be small, but they pack a very serious bite.
There are five genera of fang blennies, and all sport large, hollow canine fangs on their lower jaws, which slot neatly into holes inside the upper part of their mouths. But only species in the Meiacanthus genus have fangs that are grooved, connected to special glands and capable of delivering a dose of venom.
In a new study, researchers analyzed venom samples from the fishes' tiny fangs. They found a chemical cocktail loaded with opioid peptides that perform like morphine or heroin, making blenny attackers dizzy and sluggish when bitten. The cocktail is unique to the fang blenny, the researchers said. They added that the compounds, which are recognized for pain-inhibiting properties, could be used to develop novel painkillers...