In a groundbreaking discovery, Brazilian researchers have identified novel peptides in the venom of two snake species—the lancehead pit viper Cotiara (Bothrops cotiara) and the South American bushmaster (Lachesis muta). Funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), this research holds promise for the development of innovative blood pressure medications, showcasing the untapped potential of venom in medical applications.
Lancehead Pit Viper Venom: Bc-7a Peptide Breakthrough
The study on the lancehead pit viper venom led to the identification of the intriguing peptide named Bc-7a. This peptide exhibits the ability to inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a characteristic shared with existing blood pressure drugs like captopril. However, Bc-7a presents a potential advantage over current medications by possibly having fewer side effects. The research, published in the ‘Biochimie’ journal, unveiled a total of 197 peptides, with 189 being entirely novel discoveries.
South American Bushmaster Venom: Lm-10a Peptide with ACE Inhibitory Properties
The second study focused on the venom of the South American bushmaster, revealing 151 peptides, with 126 being previously unknown. Among these, the peptide Lm-10a stands out as it also inhibits ACE, suggesting potential applications in the treatment of blood pressure issues. These identified peptides are believed to result from fragmentation during venom maturation, highlighting the intricate and dynamic nature of venom evolution.
Venom Evolution Dynamics Explored
Principal investigator Alexandre Tashima emphasized the dynamism of toxin maturation and the potential for more discoveries in the realm of peptides and their biological roles. He underscored the urgency of such research, recognizing that many species may face extinction before being thoroughly studied. Through these studies, a deeper understanding of the complex biological mechanisms in venom evolution emerges.
Conservation Imperative for Scientific Breakthroughs
This research not only accentuates the vast therapeutic potential of venom for medical applications but also underscores the critical need to conserve biodiversity. The conservation of diverse species is pivotal in unlocking further scientific breakthroughs, as these studies shed light on the intricate interplay of biological elements within venom and its potential applications in medicine.