Snake Venom: From Deadly Toxins to Life-saving Therapeutics.
Curr Med Chem. 2017 ;24(17):1874-1891. PMID: 28578650
Snakes are fascinating creatures and have been residents of this planet well before ancient humans dwelled the earth. Venomous snakes have been a figure of fear, and cause notable mortality throughout the world. The venom constitutes families of proteins and peptides with various isoforms that make it a cocktail of diverse molecules. These biomolecules are responsible for the disturbance in fundamental physiological systems of the envenomed victim, leading to morbidity which can lead to death if left untreated. Researchers have turned these life-threatening toxins into life-saving therapeutics via technological advancements. Since the development of captopril, the first drug that was derived from bradykininpotentiating peptide of Bothrops jararaca, to the disintegrins that have potent activity against certain types of cancers, snake venom components have shown great potential for the development of lead compounds for new drugs. There is a continuous development of new drugs from snake venom for coagulopathy and hemostasis to anti-cancer agents. In this review, we have focused on different snake venom proteins / peptides derived drugs that are in clinical use or in developmental stages till to date. Also, some commonly used snake venom derived diagnostic tools along with the recent updates in this exciting field are discussed.