Nature's library of venoms is a vast and untapped resource that has the potential of becoming the source of a wide variety of new drugs and therapeutics. The discovery of these valuable molecules, hidden in diverse collections of different venoms, requires highly specific genetic and proteomic sequencing techniques. These have been used to sequence a variety of venom glands from species ranging from snakes to scorpions, and some marine species. In addition to identifying toxin sequences, these techniques have paved the way for identifying various novel evolutionary links between species that were previously thought to be unrelated. Furthermore, proteomics-based techniques have allowed researchers to discover how specific toxins have evolved within related species, and in the context of environmental pressures. These techniques allow groups to discover novel proteins, identify mutations of interest, and discover new ways to modify toxins for biomimetic purposes and for the development of new therapeutics.
Keywords: high-performance liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; predator; prey; toxin; venom.