Snake Venom Toxins: Clinical use and as Diagnostic Agents
Snakes are fascinating creatures and were inhabitants of this world well before the earth was populated by ancient humans. Snakes with a lethal secretion known as venom were endowed by nature. Snake venom is a very poisonous mixture consisting of a number of molecules such as carbohydrates, nucleosides, amino acids, lipids, proteins and peptides, making it a cocktail of diversified molecules. Snake envenomation is responsible for the disruption in the envenomed victim’s fundamental physiological processes contributing to serious health problems. Millions of snakebites are recorded annually, and due to snake venom poisoning, a significant number of individuals are injured and die. However, through technical developments, many fatal snake venom toxins have found potential applications as diagnostic agents, medicinal agents, or drug leads. From the development of Captopril, the first drug derived from Bothrops jarararaca’s bradykinin potentiating peptide, to the disintegrins that have potent activity against some forms of cancers. Therefore, components of snake venom have shown tremendous potential for the development of lead compounds for new drugs. Complementary tools and techniques are currently being used to isolate and characterize peptides and to study their potential uses as molecular probes and templates for drug development and design investigation models.
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