Marine Toxins as Research Tools

Volume 46 of the series Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology pp 45-65

Conotoxins: Molecular and Therapeutic Targets

  • Richard J. LewisAffiliated withInstitute for Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland

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Marine molluscs known as cone snails produce beautiful shells and a complex array of over 50,000 venom peptides evolved for prey capture and defence. Many of these peptides selectively modulate ion channels and transporters, making them a valuable source of new ligands for studying the role these targets play in normal and disease physiology. A number of conopeptides reduce pain in animal models, and several are now in pre-clinical and clinical development for the treatment of severe pain often associated with diseases such as cancer. Less than 1% of cone snail venom peptides are pharmacologically characterised.