Toxic Animal Farm
In his 10 years in pharmaceutical research, Steven Trim realized how difficult it was to source crude animal venoms and toxins in the U.K. and Europe. So he founded Venomtech—which houses a host of snakes, insects, scorpions, spiders, and other arthropods—to do just that.
Venoms contain a variety of different carbohydrates, enzymes, peptides, and nucleotides that, singly or in concert, can have a profound effect on physiology—as analgesics, antimicrobials, or anticancer agents, for example. The crude venoms themselves, as natural products, are free from IP constraints.
Custom volumes of individual venoms are sold frozen in low protein-binding vials rather than lyophilized, which could potentially lead to some loss and expose personnel to potentially toxic dusts. Custom and off-the-shelf 96-well Venom Discovery Arrays (VDA)—“with 32 snakes in triplicate, 48 tarantulas in duplicate, or 96 arthropods in singlet,” for example—are also available for screening, Trim said.
Because they contain complex mixtures—with the components of some species overlapping those of others—a VDA is a “naturally compressed hit-to-tool screening plate” with built-in redundancy to help identify the hit, he explained. In addition, natural selection has modified many of the components, allowing for even more ways to probe the potential structure-activity relationship and determine selectivity.