Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs - Answers

Are venoms dangerous to work with?

Our Venom fractions are no more dangerous to work with than many other pharmaceutical actives. Venoms contain toxic compounds (proteins and peptides) and we supply full Safety Data Sheets with our shipments and will happily send them in advance. In practice, systems used for screening pharmaceutical actives are suitable for screening venoms and venom fractions. Such systems include local exhaust ventilation for dissolving powders and autoclaves for disposing of any surplus.

How much venom is provided in each fraction?

200ng protein is supplied. The amount of venom provided is standardised according to protein content, which is determined by micro spectrophotometry.

What final assay volume can be achieved?

The 200ng supplied should be enough for up to 50ul final assay volume for single dose screening.

How many different substances are there in each fraction?

Each well is expected to contain 1-5 entities.

What concentration are the venom fractions active at?

This depends on your assay sensitivity but typically venom peptides are active in the picomolar – nanomolar range.

What buffer should I dissolve the fractions in?

Any aqueous assay-compatible buffer will work.

Can I use DMSO?

We advise to avoid the use of DMSO as it can sulphonate proteins and peptides. There is the potential to modify the unknown and make deconvolution and identification very difficult.

Can venom peptides be made into drugs?

Yes. There are venom peptides already on the market such as Byetta®, Echistatin and Prialt®. Venoms have also been used in the discovery of other drugs such as Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors like Captopril®, and pepto mimetics like Eptifibatide.

What is the Nagoya Protocol on Biodiversity?

Entering into force on 12 October 2014, The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing is an international agreement which aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.

Are venom peptides immunogenic?

Venom peptides useful in drug discovery, cosmetics and crop science, are poorly recognised by the immune systems of animals. They rarely illicit an immune response, even when one is needed. Many venom components, especially small peptides, are poorly immunogenic. Whole snake venoms do elicit immune reactions, including anaphylaxis, in humans. Due to of the risk of whole venom sensitisation, we operate strict, safe systems of work, including local exhaust ventilation to protect our staff.

Do cosmetic venom peptides contain animal products?

Our peptides are manufactured synthetically. They mimic the power of evolution and do not contain any animal products. These peptides have built in stabilisation and are non-toxic to human cells in culture.

Why are venoms useful in Drug Discovery?

Animal venoms have not evolved to cure our diseases. The targets that venoms have evolved to hit in their prey have also evolved in humans and are highly conserved. A Na+ ion channel vital for insect life has also evolved in humans and is involved in pain transmission. A venom that evolved to kill insects can have potential as a therapeutic agent in treating pain. Many venoms have actions on their prey that are desirable for treating specific diseases. e.g. snake venoms that lower blood pressure will have potential in treating hypertension or spider venoms that block pain receptors.

Why are venoms useful in cosmetics?

Just like in drug discovery, good active ingredients in cosmetics act on relevant targets. Venoms can be made safe for cosmetic use by only selecting the key active peptide and not using the parts involved in the toxic pathways. This is the essence of our Venom SELECT service. See Mibelle’s website for one of our early success stories – SensAmone-P5

How should I store the T-VDA™?

We recommend storage at -20°C upon receipt. Lyophilised T-VDAs™ are shipped at ambient temperature, as they are stable for several weeks.

Can I reuse the T-VDA™?

Typically the arrays are single-shot with enough material for a backup. If you do have some left over, they can be frozen at -20°C and reused. It is best to avoid repeated freeze-thaw cycles. We recommend no more than three.

How stable are the venoms?

Venoms are intrinsically very stable proteins and remain stable and active in most biological (biochemical and cell based) assays.

Can I refreeze unused venom?

Yes, but do not freeze-thaw more than three times.

Can the T-VDA™ be used in Phenotypic screens?

Yes, our T-VDAs™ can be used in any biochemical or cell based assay like any other compound array. We have found fractionated T-VDAs perform well in Phenotypic assays.

How many components are in venoms?

Venoms contain several hundred components, which is why we provide them in the 2D fractionated T-VDA™. A typical T-VDA™ contains 1-5 entities per well and avoids the complex poly-pharmacology of the whole venom, while being less expensive than a single entity array.

What molecules are found in venom?

1-10KDa peptides predominate in a lot of the venoms, with larger peptides, proteins and small molecules (such as acyl polyamines) also present.

How many venoms are in the ToxiVen Library?

Approximately 200 Species, which can be fractionated into ~20,000 fractions.

What is the composition of the Library?

Approximately 30% snakes, 30% tarantula, 10% true spiders, 20% scorpions, 10% others (jellyfish, insects, etc.)

Are ToxiVen T-VDA™ plates compatible with automation?

We always supply our T-VDAs™ in SBS plates, usually Echo compatible 384, but 384LDV, 96 and 1536 are also available. Please enquire about your preferred assay plate.

What hit rate can I expect?

Customers typically report a 1-3% hit rate from screening our T-VDAs™.

Should I use blocking proteins such as BSA?

Although proteins and peptides are known to potentially stick to plastics, they also can stick to other proteins. Therefore we recommend not using BSA or other blocking proteins unless it is critical for your experiments.

How soluble are venoms?

Whole venoms are soluble up to approximately 300mg/ml in aqueous buffers. Individual fractions may vary, depending on their hydrophobicity.

Can I open the T-VDA™ in a cell culture hood?

Yes, power weighing hoods are better but the lyophilised venoms are unlikely to be blown out of the wells in fume hoods or cell culture MBSCs.

How safe are venom peptide cosmetics?

Venom peptides designed through our Venom SELECT™ service have been specially selected to avoid the toxic regions and focus on the activity required. They are also tested for in-vitro safety before going forward to human trials.

What claims can I support with venom peptides?

Venoms contain a wide range of active peptides which individually act on a very wide range of receptors and targets. Please see our cosmetic page for more information.