6 January 2017
Viruses exhibit rapid mutational capacity to trick and infect host cells, sometimes assisted through virus-coded peptides that counteract host cellular immune defense. Although a large number of compounds have been identified as inhibiting various viral infections and disease progression, it is urgent to achieve the discovery of more effective agents. Furthermore, proportionally to the great variety of diseases caused by viruses, very few viral vaccines are available, and not all are efficient. Thus, new antiviral substances obtained from natural products have been prospected, including those derived from venomous animals. Venoms are complex mixtures of hundreds of molecules, mostly peptides, that present a large array of biological activities and evolved to putatively target the biochemical machinery of different pathogens or host cellular structures. In addition, non-venomous compounds, such as some body fluids of invertebrate organisms, exhibit antiviral activity. This review provides a panorama of peptides described from animal venoms that present antiviral activity, thereby reinforcing them as important tools for the development of new therapeutic drugs.