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.
Keywords: cystine knot; drug discovery; drugs; peptide; spider venom; therapeutics.