S. Korea launches state project to develop painkiller from sea snake venom

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2017-11-29 15:44 Updated : 2017-11-29 15:44
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South Korea will launch a state project next year to develop painkillers and other drugs using the neurotoxin component of venomous sea snakes, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. 

Two species -- yellowbelly and Chinese sea snakes -- were selected for the project involving researchers at the state-run National Marine Biodiversity Institute of Korea, the ministry said in a statement. "We will start research on the development of medicinal materials using the neurotoxin component of sea snakes."

The yellow-bellied sea snake living off the southern island of Jeju has a distinctive bicolor pattern with a yellow underbelly and brown back while the Chinese sea snake can be caught in southern coastal areas.

Their highly potent venom will be studied to develop useful substances with analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, the ministry said. Scientists at home and abroad have tried to extract useful chemicals from exceptional snake venoms, but research on venomous sea snakes is rare.