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J Cancer. 2016 Jul 15;7(11):1571-8. doi: 10.7150/jca.15309. eCollection 2016.

Effects of Animal Venoms and Toxins on Hallmarks of Cancer.

Author information

1
1. Department of Pharmacology, Phramongkutklao College of Medicine, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.
2
2. Monash Venom Group, Department of Pharmacology, Biomedical Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia.
3
2. Monash Venom Group, Department of Pharmacology, Biomedical Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia.; 3. Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biomedical Discovery Institute, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia.
4
4. Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Phramongkutklao Hospital, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.

Abstract

Animal venoms are a cocktail of proteins and peptides, targeting vital physiological processes. Venoms have evolved to assist in the capture and digestion of prey. Key venom components often include neurotoxins, myotoxins, cardiotoxins, hematoxins and catalytic enzymes. The pharmacological activities of venom components have been investigated as a source of potential therapeutic agents. Interestingly, a number of animal toxins display profound anticancer effects. These include toxins purified from snake, bee and scorpion venoms effecting cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasion, apoptotic activity and neovascularization. Indeed, the mechanism behind the anticancer effect of certain toxins is similar to that of agents currently used in chemotherapy. For example, Lebein is a snake venom disintegrin which generates anti-angiogenic effects by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGF). In this review article, we highlight the biological activities of animal toxins on the multiple steps of tumour formation or hallmarks of cancer. We also discuss recent progress in the discovery of lead compounds for anticancer drug development from venom components.

KEYWORDS:

Hallmarks of cancer.; animal venoms; anticancer; apoptosis; cytotoxicity

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