Heart patients could benefit from venomous lizards

December 3, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study on venomous lizards has revealed the existence of novel venoms that could potentially be used to treat high blood pressure.

Dr. Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne led a team of researchers from across the world, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Switzerland, Israel and the US, to examine the unexplored group of venomous called anguimorphs – a group that includes monitor, alligator and legless lizards.

“We only recently discovered that in lizards was not restricted to the gila monster and beaded lizard, but it is in fact much more widespread – so we set out to examine this unique group, and sure enough we discovered completely novel toxins,” Dr. Fry said.

“We showed a great diversity of toxins in anguimorph venoms. The drug design potential of these novel venoms is highlighted by the fact that three of these new toxins act to lower blood pressure.”

The huge-scale study took four years to complete and involved collecting venom from lizards all over the world, followed by complex laboratory studies to analyse the properties of the venom.

“It was a huge undertaking but the result is well worth the effort – we have discovered completely novel venoms, as well as shed light on the evolution of venom systems in animals,” Dr. Fry said.

“The results obtained highlight the importance of utilizing evolution-based search strategies for biodiscovery and emphasize the largely untapped drug design and development potential of lizard venoms,” Dr. Fry said.

Dr. Fry will now focus on transforming the valuable lizard venom into a pharmaceutical product that could ultimately help sufferers of heart disease.

Explore further: Snake venoms share similar ingredients

More information: The study was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

Related Stories

Snake venoms share similar ingredients

December 20, 2007

Venoms from different snake families may have many deadly ingredients in common, more than was previously thought. A study published in the online open access journal BMC Molecular Biology has unexpectedly discovered three-finger ...

Poisonous Poisson

December 4, 2009

In contrast to the exhaustive research into venom produced by snakes and spiders, venomous fish have been neglected and remain something of a mystery. Now, a study of 158 catfish species, published in the open access journal ...

Snake venom charms science world

March 8, 2010

The King Cobra continues to weave its charm with researchers identifying a protein in its venom with the potential for new drug discovery and to advance understanding of disease mechanisms.

Scientists tap into Antarctic octopus venom

July 21, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have collected venom from octopuses in Antarctica for the first time, significantly advancing our understanding of the properties of venom as a potential resource for drug-development.

Recommended for you

Uncovering secrets of elastin's flexibility during assembly

February 5, 2016

Elastin is a crucial building block in our bodies - its flexibility allows skin to stretch and twist, blood vessels to expand and relax with every heartbeat, and lungs to swell and contract with each breath. But exactly how ...

Researchers seek efficient means of splitting water

February 5, 2016

Photovoltaics promise to help meet our energy needs by turning sunlight into electricity. We can't run everything that way, but with a little tweaking, photovoltaic materials can use solar energy to split water into hydrogen ...

Room-temperature lithium metal battery closer to reality

February 4, 2016

Rechargeable lithium metal batteries have been known for four decades to offer energy storage capabilities far superior to today's workhorse lithium-ion technology that powers our smartphones and laptops. But these batteries ...

Antibiotic's killer strategy revealed

February 4, 2016

Using a special profiling technique, scientists at Princeton have determined the mechanism of action of a potent antibiotic, known as tropodithietic acid (TDA), leading them to uncover its hidden ability as a potential anticancer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.