Highly structured small peptides are the major toxic constituents of the venom of cone snails, a family of widely distributed predatory marine molluscs. These animals use the venom for rapid prey immobilization. The peptide components in the venom target a wide variety of membrane-bound ion channels and receptors. Many have been found to be highly selective for a diverse range of mammalian ion channels and receptors associated with pain-signaling pathways. Their small size, structural stability, and target specificity make them attractive pharmacologic agents. A select number of laboratories mainly from the United States, Europe, Australia, Israel, and China have been engaged in intense drug discovery programs based on peptides from a few snail species. Coastal India has an estimated 20–30% of the known cone species; however, few serious studies have been reported so far. We have begun a comprehensive program for the identification and characterization of peptides from cone snails found in Indian Coastal waters. This presentation reviews our progress over the last 2 years. As expected from the evolutionary history of these venom components, our search has yielded novel peptides of therapeutic promise from the new species that we have studied.
H. A. N. U. M. A. E. K GOWD, SABAREESH, V., Sudarslal, S., IENGAR, P. R. A. T. H. I. M. A., FRANKLIN, B. E. N. J. A. M. I. N., FERNANDO, A. N. T. O. N. Y., DEWAN, K. A. L. Y. A. N., RAMASWAMI, M. A. N. I., SARMA, S. I. D. D. H. A. R. T. H. A. P., SIKDAR, S. U. J. I. T., BALARAM, P., and KRISHNAN, K. S., “Novel Peptides of Therapeutic Promise from Indian Conidae”, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1056, pp. 462–473, 2005.