Dr. George Chandy at the University of California, Irvine discovered a toxin in Caribbean sun anemones (see photo) in 1984 and has spent his career studying the toxin. Prior work by his team suggested that a synthetic version of a peptide (ShK-186) from the toxin may help treat autoimmune disease. It works by blocking a specific potassium channel (Kv1.3) important in immune system reactivity. Since potassium channels are also important in the regulation of metabolism and body weight, his team wanted to explore whether this peptide could be used to treat obesity. Mice on a diet high in fat and sugar were administered ShK-186, which decreased weight gain, fat deposits, cholesterol, blood sugar, and fatty liver. The hypothesis is that ShK-186 reduces inflammation and activates brown fat, known for its calorie-burning properties.