UNAM’s Yucatán scientists say red octopus’ saliva could cure Alzheimer’s
The red octopus’ saliva is a potential substance that would contain agents against Alzheimer’s disease, and its chemical components could contribute to the understanding of this condition’s mechanism. “However, a lot of research is still to be done,” Sergio Rodríguez, head of the UNAM’s Faculty of Chemistry, Sisal unit, in Yucatán, said in a statement.
According to the research carried out by Rodríguez’s team at the Sisal unit, it was discovered that the saliva of the red Yucatecan octopus contains a “cocktail” of polypeptides, proteins, free amino acids, enzymes, ions and carbohydrates representing two primordial phases, during the feeding process of this animal.
“These phases are divided into metabolic and neurotoxic. The results obtained in the laboratory revealed that the neurotoxic effect is produced by tiny molecules, and when we injected only this part of the venom, we noticed that the prey is paralyzed for two hours and then returned to normal, without other side effects,” Rodriguez said.
“In this sense, when the venom of this cephalopod was submitted to several tests, it was proved that its metabolic compounds contribute to pre-digestion, in addition to proteases – enzymes that break down proteins – kill the prey and within 20 minutes, transforming the Fibrous flesh in an easy-to-ingest gel,” he continued.
Based on these results, researchers at the UNAM consider that these enzymes could serve industrial purposes, such as meat softeners or detergents.
The Chemistry unit at Sisal is the only faculty that is in charge of studying the possible applications of the red octopus’ saliva, and they have discovered it can be used in diverse fields.
Finally, Sergio Rodríguez stated that studies are being conducted at the Sisal unit, on aquaculture — a set of techniques and knowledge related to the cultivation of aquatic species — and biotechnology — the employment of living cells to obtain and improve useful products such as food and medicines.