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      Spider-Venom Peptides as Therapeutics

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          Abstract

          Spiders are the most successful venomous animals and the most abundant terrestrial predators. Their remarkable success is due in large part to their ingenious exploitation of silk and the evolution of pharmacologically complex venoms that ensure rapid subjugation of prey. Most spider venoms are dominated by disulfide-rich peptides that typically have high affinity and specificity for particular subtypes of ion channels and receptors. Spider venoms are conservatively predicted to contain more than 10 million bioactive peptides, making them a valuable resource for drug discovery. Here we review the structure and pharmacology of spider-venom peptides that are being used as leads for the development of therapeutics against a wide range of pathophysiological conditions including cardiovascular disorders, chronic pain, inflammation, and erectile dysfunction.

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          Most cited references 151

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          An SCN9A channelopathy causes congenital inability to experience pain.

          The complete inability to sense pain in an otherwise healthy individual is a very rare phenotype. In three consanguineous families from northern Pakistan, we mapped the condition as an autosomal-recessive trait to chromosome 2q24.3. This region contains the gene SCN9A, encoding the alpha-subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel, Na(v)1.7, which is strongly expressed in nociceptive neurons. Sequence analysis of SCN9A in affected individuals revealed three distinct homozygous nonsense mutations (S459X, I767X and W897X). We show that these mutations cause loss of function of Na(v)1.7 by co-expression of wild-type or mutant human Na(v)1.7 with sodium channel beta(1) and beta(2) subunits in HEK293 cells. In cells expressing mutant Na(v)1.7, the currents were no greater than background. Our data suggest that SCN9A is an essential and non-redundant requirement for nociception in humans. These findings should stimulate the search for novel analgesics that selectively target this sodium channel subunit.
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            P2X4 receptors induced in spinal microglia gate tactile allodynia after nerve injury.

            Pain after nerve damage is an expression of pathological operation of the nervous system, one hallmark of which is tactile allodynia-pain hypersensitivity evoked by innocuous stimuli. Effective therapy for this pain is lacking, and the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we report that pharmacological blockade of spinal P2X4 receptors (P2X4Rs), a subtype of ionotropic ATP receptor, reversed tactile allodynia caused by peripheral nerve injury without affecting acute pain behaviours in naive animals. After nerve injury, P2X4R expression increased strikingly in the ipsilateral spinal cord, and P2X4Rs were induced in hyperactive microglia but not in neurons or astrocytes. Intraspinal administration of P2X4R antisense oligodeoxynucleotide decreased the induction of P2X4Rs and suppressed tactile allodynia after nerve injury. Conversely, intraspinal administration of microglia in which P2X4Rs had been induced and stimulated, produced tactile allodynia in naive rats. Taken together, our results demonstrate that activation of P2X4Rs in hyperactive microglia is necessary for tactile allodynia after nerve injury and is sufficient to produce tactile allodynia in normal animals. Thus, blocking P2X4Rs in microglia might be a new therapeutic strategy for pain induced by nerve injury.
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              Synthetic therapeutic peptides: science and market.

              The decreasing number of approved drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry, which has been accompanied by increasing expenses for R&D, demands alternative approaches to increase pharmaceutical R&D productivity. This situation has contributed to a revival of interest in peptides as potential drug candidates. New synthetic strategies for limiting metabolism and alternative routes of administration have emerged in recent years and resulted in a large number of peptide-based drugs that are now being marketed. This review reports on the unexpected and considerable number of peptides that are currently available as drugs and the chemical strategies that were used to bring them into the market. As demonstrated here, peptide-based drug discovery could be a serious option for addressing new therapeutic challenges. Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Toxins (Basel)
                toxins
                Toxins
                MDPI
                2072-6651
                20 December 2010
                December 2010
                : 2
                : 12
                : 2851-2871
                toxins-02-02851
                10.3390/toxins2122851
                3153181
                22069579
                © 2010 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland

                This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

                Categories
                Review

                Molecular medicine

                spider venom, peptide, therapeutics, drugs, drug discovery, cystine knot

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