Snake venoms in drug discovery: Valuable therapeutic tools for life saving

Tarek Mohamed Abd El-Aziz, Antonio Garcia Soares, James D. Stockand

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Animal venoms are used as defense mechanisms or to immobilize and digest prey. In fact, venoms are complex mixtures of enzymatic and non-enzymatic components with specific pathophysiological functions. Peptide toxins isolated from animal venoms target mainly ion channels, membrane receptors and components of the hemostatic system with high selectivity and affinity. The present review shows an up-to-date survey on the pharmacology of snake-venom bioactive components and evaluates their therapeutic perspectives against a wide range of pathophysiological conditions. Snake venoms have also been used as medical tools for thousands of years especially in tradition Chinese medicine. Consequently, snake venoms can be considered as mini-drug libraries in which each drug is pharmacologically active. However, less than 0.01% of these toxins have been identified and characterized. For instance, Captopril® (Enalapril), Integrilin® (Eptifibatide) and Aggrastat® (Tirofiban) are drugs based on snake venoms, which have been approved by the FDA. In addition to these approved drugs, many other snake venom components are now involved in preclinical or clinical trials for a variety of therapeutic applications. These examples show that snake venoms can be a valuable source of new principle components in drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number564
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 25 2019


  • Drug discovery
  • Pharmacology
  • Snake venoms
  • Therapeutic applications
  • Toxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


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