From demons to darlings: drugs from venoms

Alan Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Drugs from venoms was the theme of a recent conference held on Heron Island, Queensland, Australia (16–21 August 1998). Unlikely as this premise might seem, there are some important examples of toxins or venom components being developed for pharmaceutical use. The arrow poison tubocurarine has been used in anaesthetic practice as a muscle relaxant for over 40 years, and most modern muscle relaxants were designed with an understanding of the structures of the curare alkaloids. Captopril, the first angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor in clinical use, was developed as an analogue of the bradykinin potentiating peptides from the venom of the Brazilian snake Bothrops jararaca, and even one of the most lethal toxins known, botulinum toxin, has found a use in treating uncontrollable muscle spasms.

The main themes explored during the conference were the benefits gained from the exquisite selectivity of toxins, the structure-based design of new agents from an understanding of the SAR of toxins, and the use of toxins as tools to probe potential therapeutic targets at the molecular and functional levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-532
Number of pages2
JournalDrug Discovery Today
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 1998


  • venom
  • drug discovery
  • natural remedies


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