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Pharmacol Ther. 2007 May;114(2):171-83. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Neurotoxins from invertebrates as anticonvulsants: from basic research to therapeutic application.

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Neurobiology and Venoms Laboratory, Department of Biology, School of Philosophy, Sciences and Literature, University of São Paulo Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.


Invertebrate venoms have attracted considerable interest as a potential source of bioactive substances, especially neurotoxins. These molecules have proved to be extremely useful tools for the understanding of synaptic transmission events, and they have contributed to the design of novel drugs for the treatment of neurological disorders and pain. In this context, as epilepsy involves neuronal substrates, which are sites of action of many neurotoxins; venoms may be particularly useful for antiepileptic drug (AED) research. Epilepsy is a chronic disease whose treatment consists of controlling seizures with antiepileptics that very often induce strong undesirable side effects that may limit treatment. Here, we review the vast, but yet unexplored, world of neurotoxins from invertebrates used as probes in pharmacological screening for novel and less toxic antiepileptics. We briefly review (1) the molecular basis of epilepsy, as well as the sites of action of commonly used anticonvulsants (we bring a comprehensive review of the elements from invertebrate venoms which are mostly studied in neuroscience research and may be useful for drug development); (2) peptides from conus snails; (3) peptides and polyamine toxins from spiders and wasps; and (4) peptides from scorpions.

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