Philippine Science Letters
vol. 3 | no. 1 | 2010
published online March 5, 2010


FEATURE


National Scientist Lourdes Jansuy Cruz:
From Rice to Conus Research — the Journey


by Evelyn Mae Tecson-Mendoza

Member and present secretary of the National Academy of Science and Technology and Research Professor and UP Scientist III of the University of the Philippines Los Baños


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In the mid 1970s, Lourdes J. Cruz published a seminal paper on the venom protein of the marine snail Conus in Veliger. This was followed by a series of papers on the feeding and mating habits of the Conus geographus in captivity, on the assay of the toxin, on the toxin proteins of different marine snails and on the basic chemical and molecular make-up of the toxins and their effects on the nervous system. In 1985, Dr. Cruz and co-workers reported in the prestigious journal Science that the venom of the marine snail I called Conus geographus from the Philippine seas contains a cocktail of many peptides with various activities that affect the ion channels and receptors of the central nervous system. There were peptides that cause muscular paralysis, peptides that cause sleepiness or drowsiness, peptides that make the test animals jump! This discovery led to a long series of researches in the laboratory of Dr. Cruz in the University of the Philippines Manila and Diliman and in the laboratory of her collaborators especially Dr. Baldomero Olivera in the University of Utah. Moreover, it attracted researchers worldwide to study this goldmine of conotoxins and their potential practical and commercial applications in neuroscience and medicine.