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Proteomics International Using Arthropod Venom for New Peptide Drug-Discovery

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Aussie firm Proteomics International said this week it has developed a new peptide drug-discovery process based on venom from scorpions, spiders, and centipedes.

Called Bioven, the process is a new way to validate potential peptide drug candidates. It combines mass spectrometry with proprietary algorithms "to determine peptide identity and to predict, by homology matching, the function of the peptides," the company said in a statement.

According to the firm, up to five times more potential drug candidates can be recovered from one venom sample than previously achievable.

Proteomics International added that the new process eventually could help it identify a range of bioactive peptides, including neurotoxins, analgesics, and anti-microbials.

"Not only can we predict what a found peptide might do in a pharmaceutical sense, but with our in-house manufacturing, we can produce these peptides quickly in order to complete early preclinical trials," Richard Lipscombe, managing director of Proteomics International, said in the statement.

The company said that while venoms may seem a strange basis for drug discovery, in actuality, there is a history of lead-to-drug outcomes in the field: Every venomous creature has developed a selected set of peptides and proteins with specific functions, whether defensive or offensive.

Proteomics International is collecting it s peptides from arthropods found in Australia's Outback and has an agreement with the Northern Territory government to collect the specimens.

After a few months, the firm has found "several thousand" molecules with predicted potential bioactivity, it said.

Based in Perth, the company is a contract service company and R&D shop focused protein research. Its two main research activities, according to the firm's website, are venom analysis and biomarker discovery work.

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