Toxins and drug discovery

Alan L. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)
168 Downloads (Pure)


Components from venoms have stimulated many drug discovery projects, with some notable successes. These are briefly reviewed, from captopril to ziconotide. However, there have been many more disappointments on the road from toxin discovery to approval of a new medicine. Drug discovery and development is an inherently risky business, and the main causes of failure during development programmes are outlined in order to highlight steps that might be taken to increase the chances of success with toxin-based drug discovery. These include having a clear focus on unmet therapeutic needs, concentrating on targets that are well-validated in terms of their relevance to the disease in question, making use of phenotypic screening rather than molecular-based assays, and working with development partners with the resources required for the long and expensive development process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
Early online date29 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2014


  • conus venoms
  • drug development venoms to drugs
  • drug discovery
  • phenotypic screening
  • snake venoms


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