Spider venom peptides as leads for drug and insecticide design

Editora UFMG
Publication Type:
Animal Toxins: State of the Art. Perspectives In Health and Biotechnology, 2009, 1, pp. 269 - 290
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Spider venoms represent highly complex cocktails of proteins, peptides, neurotransmitters, acylpolyamines and other small molecules employed to subdue and kill their prey or predators. By a process of natural selection, spider venoms have evolved as complex pre-optimized combinatorial peptide libraries, displaying Wide-ranging pharmacological activities.The therapeutic potential of these peptides stems from their highly potent and specific actions to modulate an extensive range of ion channels, receptors, and transporters in vertebrates and invertebrates,as well as their antimicrobial activity. Nevertheless, it is only since the advent of modern analytical technologies that the full potential of this resource is beginning to be exploited for validating novel insecticide targets, and for aiding in the design of novel drugs and bioinsecticides. These techniques have identified that the currently known spider venom pool represents a resource of several million peptides that selectivelytarget specific subtypes ofion channels or receptors. Indeed, some spider toxins are becoming the defining pharmacology for specificsubtypes of ion channels. Furthermore, structure-function studies ofthese molecules are leading not only to the discovery of new molecular tools, but are also providing insight into novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, neuromuscular diseases, pain and to a variety ... of other pathological conditions. Against this background, this review will evaluate peptidic spider toxins as possible lead compounds for new therapeutics and for controlling insect pests. Special attention will be given to their role in the discovery of novel approaches in analgesia and cardiovascular research.
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