Seattle-based biotechnology company Kineta is developing a treatment based on sea anemone toxin for patients with auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis, in which the body’s immune cells mistakenly attack its own healthy cells. The toxin, which the anemones release to discourage predators like lobsters, contains a compound called ShK-186 that affects certain potassium channels in the body. Antibodies that bind to these channels may be responsible for some autoimmune conditions, and targeting just this defect may provide a more effective treatment. Current therapies often disable more of the immune system, which makes patients vulnerable to other immune-related problems, says Dr. Chuck Magness, Kineta’s CEO and president. The drug also appears to regulate metabolism, which means it could possibly play a role in treating obesity. Currently, the sea anemone toxin-inspired drug is in the first phase of human clinical trials.