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

New method developed for producing some metals

August 25, 2016

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony—and ...

Electron microscopy reveals how vitamin A enters the cell

August 25, 2016

Using a new, lightning-fast camera paired with an electron microscope, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists have captured images of one of the smallest proteins in our cells to be "seen" with a microscope.

Hitching a ride: Misfiring drugs hit the wrong targets

August 25, 2016

It probably isn't surprising to read that pharmaceutical drugs don't always do what they're supposed to. Adverse side effects are a well-known phenomenon and something many of us will have experienced when taking medicines.

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.