Cone snails produce a distinctive repertoire of venom peptides that are used both as a defense mechanism and also to facilitate the immobilization and digestion of prey. These peptides target a wide variety of voltage- and ligand-gated ion channels, which make them an invaluable resource for studying the properties of these ion channels in normal and diseased states, as well as being a collection of compounds of potential pharmacological use in their own right. Examples include the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pharmaceutical drug, Ziconotide (Prialt; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) that is the synthetic equivalent of the naturally occurring ?-conotoxin MVIIA, whilst several other conotoxins are currently being used as standard research tools and screened as potential therapeutic drugs in pre-clinical or clinical trials. These developments highlight the importance of driving conotoxin-related research. A PubMed query from 1 January 2007 to 31 August 2011 combined with hand-curation of the retrieved articles allowed for the collation of 98 recently identified conotoxins with therapeutic potential which are selectively discussed in this review. Protein sequence similarity analysis tentatively assigned uncharacterized conotoxins to predicted functional classes. Furthermore, conotoxin therapeutic potential for neurodegenerative disorders (NDD) was also inferred. 2012 by the authors; licensee MDPI.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Drug Discovery