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The roughly 500 species of tropical predatory sea snails of the genus Conus contain 50 to 200 different biologically active compounds in their venom. While not so good for a fish about to become dinner for a snail, Conus venom represents a rich resource for drug discovery and development, a resource being pursued by Cognetix Inc.

Conus sea snails were brought to the attention of the scientific community by Cognetix co-founder Baldomero Olivera, now at the University of Utah but formerly at the University of the Philippines. Olivera began studying Conus to take advantage of local Philippine marine biology at a time when his lab was short on other resources.