After having analyzed 203 species of poisonous animals, the European project Venomics has succeeded in creating the largest database of toxins in history. This in turn will help develop new medicines. Leaders of the project said, "The pharmaceutical applications being worked on are chiefly focused on cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes."
The project is financed by the European Commission, and was developed by a consortium of several companies and international research centers with the goal of speeding the development of drugs by using high-yield omics technologies. Spain's Sistemas Genomicos led the development of the database.
To create the database, venom was extracted from the various species and analyzed to obtain small amounts of toxins in order to determine their potential uses. Species including snakes, tarantulas, wasps, sea anemones and a very poisonous blue octopus were collected for study during the 2012 and 2013 expeditions to such places as French Guiana, Mayotte and Polynesia.
Rebeca Miņambres, a project director of the Spanish company, said, "The analysis has been a challenge because in the smallest species it was very hard to extract the venom. We have adjusted our methods with the new technology. The main achievement has been to show that the use of these new omics technologies eliminates much of the complexity of the process and also the time, because using classic procedures would have taken us years. The technology used can be valid for more industries than pharmaceuticals."