Spider Venom Components as Drug Candidates

  • Vera Oldrati
  • Estelle Bianchi
  • Reto Stöcklin


Animal venoms represent a rich resource of bioactive molecules. These complex biofluids contain a multitude of proteins, peptides and small molecules that act with high specificity and potency on numerous physiological processes, such as ion channels and receptors. In this regard, spiders are no exception, and several molecules of biomedical interest have already been identified and characterized in their venoms. Furthermore, analysis of their haemolymph has revealed numerous antimicrobial peptides, the silk they produce is also of interest and insect-selective toxins are developed as insecticides. However, compared with snakes, scorpions and marine organisms, obtaining adequate amounts of spider venom requires a substantial effort. As a consequence, spider venoms have been relatively poorly investigated. Indeed, until now, the main focus has been on large theraphosid spiders and species with life-threatening venom, thus covering only the tip of the iceberg of the huge molecular biodiversity offered by arachnids. Nonetheless, recent technological and strategic developments that enable the discovery of new bioactive ingredients in small amounts of raw material have paved the way to novel discoveries in spider venom. The aim of this chapter is to highlight the interest of spider venom for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.


P2X3 Receptor Spider Venom Cone Snail Spider Toxin Sphingomyelin Phosphodiesterase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and to the Swiss Initiative in Systems Biology ( for financial support. Part of the tools and strategies presented herein were developed and validated in the frame of CONCO, the cone snail genome project for health ( within the 6th Framework Program (LIFESCIHEALTH-6 Integrated Project LSHB-CT-2007, contract number 037592), with Dr. Torbjörn Ingemansson as scientific officer. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Xavier Sprungli (The Toxinomics Foundation) for his ongoing help and creativity; he prepared the figures of this article. We are grateful to Nicolas Hulo (Atheris Laboratories), Roman Mylonas (Atheris Laboratories and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics), Frédérique Lisacek (Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics), Lucia Kuhn-Nentwig and Wolfgang Nentwig (University of Bern) for fruitful collaborations and ongoing help. We would like to thank Ron Hogg of OmniScience SA for editorial support. This article is a tribute to our friend Vincent Deryck who left us after a long and courageous fight against cancer. Vincent was instrumental in the development of venom production at Alphabiotoxine in Belgium, and he will be missed a lot.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atheris LaboratoriesBernex-GenevaSwitzerland

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