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Curr Med Chem. 2018 Oct 31. doi: 10.2174/0929867325666181031122438. [Epub ahead of print]

Animal venom peptides as a treasure trove for new therapeutics against neurodegenerative disorders.

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Department of Anatomy and Histology & Embryology, Faculty of Basic Medical Science, Kunming Medical University, Kunming 650500, Yunnan. China.
Key Laboratory of Chemistry in Ethnic Medicine Resource, State Ethnic Affairs Commission & Ministry of Education, School of Ethnomedicine and Ethnopharmacy, Yunnan Minzu University, Kunming 650500, Yunnan. China.
Department of Anatomy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. Singapore.



Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and cerebral ischemic stroke, impose enormous socio-economic burdens on both patients and health-care systems. However, drugs targeting these diseases remain unsatisfactory, and hence there is an urgent need for the development of novel and potent drug candidates.


Animal toxins exhibit rich diversity in both proteins and peptides, which play vital roles in biomedical drug development. As a molecular tool, animal toxin peptides have not only helped clarify many critical physiological processes but also led to the discovery of novel drugs and clinical therapeutics.


Recently, toxin peptides identified from venomous animals, e.g. exenatide, ziconotide, Hi1a, and PcTx1 from spider venom, have been shown to block specific ion channels, alleviate inflammation, decrease protein aggregates, regulate glutamate and neurotransmitter levels, and increase neuroprotective factors.


Thus, components of venom hold considerable capacity as drug candidates for the alleviation or reduction of neurodegeneration. This review highlights studies evaluating different animal toxins, especially peptides, as promising therapeutic tools for treatment of different neurodegenerative diseases and disorders.


Animal toxins; molecular mechanisms; neurodegenerative diseases; small peptides; therapeutics

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