Conotoxins and their potential pharmaceutical applications
The neurotoxins isolated from cone shell venoms are a diverse group of small, disulfide-rich peptides. Most of the active peptides isolated to date have been shown to specifically target various components of neural transmission, and have generally demonstrated high specificities for ion channel and receptor types and subtypes. The specificity of conotoxins is one of the attributes that make them valuable diagnostic tools in the characterisation of neural pathways, as therapeutic agents in medicine, and potentially as biodegradable toxic agents in agroveterinary applications. The number of novel, active peptides within the numerous Conus species is considered to be enormous. Currently, however, relatively few peptides have been characterised. In this article, we review current research on conotoxins with a focus on drug potential being developed at the University of Queensland, Australia.