Causes and Consequences of Snake Venom Variation

Nicholas R. Casewell*, Timothy N. W. Jackson, Andreas H. Laustsen, Kartik Sunagar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Snake venoms are mixtures of toxins that vary extensively between and within snake species. This variability has serious consequences for the management of the world's 1.8 million annual snakebite victims. Advances in 'omic' technologies have empowered toxinologists to comprehensively characterize snake venom compositions, unravel the molecular mechanisms that underpin venom variation, and elucidate the ensuing functional consequences. In this review, we describe how such mechanistic processes have resulted in suites of toxin isoforms that cause diverse pathologies in human snakebite victims and we detail how variation in venom composition can result in treatment failure. Finally, we outline current therapeutic approaches designed to circumvent venom variation and deliver next-generation treatments for the world's most lethal neglected tropical disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Pharmacological Sciences
Volume41
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)570-581
Number of pages12
ISSN0165-6147
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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