Botulinum toxin 3BTA

Toxinology is the specialized area of [2]

There is an Toxicon. A number of countries have established national toxinology societies and these hold national meetings. There are several journals, besides Toxicon, that principally cover toxin research and major discoveries in toxinology can be published in a wide variety of journals, including Nature.


  • Toxins and toxinology 1
  • Clinical toxinology 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Toxins and toxinology

Toxins are natural substances, or substances produced by tetrodotoxin, used by a variety of poisonous animals and by a few venomous animals.

Toxins and toxinology is not solely focused on adverse effects. An increasing number of toxins are important as research tools, unlocking secrets of disease, or as diagnostic agents in hospital laboratories, or as therapeutic agents to treat human disease, including anti-cancer agents, anti-epileptic agents, anti-clotting agents, analgesics, anti-hypertensive drugs, to name but a few. This is a very rich field for research.

Venomous animals can be found in a number of Phyla. Some prominent examples include: Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata - venomous snakes (approximately 800 species in Families Viperidae, Elapidae, Atractaspididae and Colubridae* (* this family is an artificial construct and will likely be broken up into a variety of new families)), venomous lizards (two species from the Americas - Heloderma horridum and H. suspectum; also recent controversial research has claimed some other lizards can produce toxins, notably varanid lizards), venomous mammals (notably the platypus, also some shrew species), venomous spiny fish (e.g. stonefish, butterfly cod, bullrout, catfish, numerous other species), stingrays. Phylum Arthropoda - spiders, scorpions, ticks (only a few species are venomous, causing paralysis), centipedes, some insects (notably the hymenopterans including bees, wasps and ants). Phylum Mollusca - cone snails and related predatory marine snails, some octopuses (notably the blue-ringed octopus). Phylum Cnidaria (Coelenterata) - true jellyfish, box jellyfish (contains some of the most lethal of all venomous animals), hydrozoans (includes colony "jellyfish" such as Physalia or Portuguese Man O' War), anthozoans (including coral). Phylum Echinodermata - sea urchins. This listing is not exhaustive.

Poisonous animals, mushrooms and plants again cover a diversity of taxonomic groups. In many cases, poisonous animals derive their poison from the environment. This applies to classic marine poisons such as digitalis, long used as treatment for certain heart conditions. Nevertheless, some plant toxins have become "popular" as self-harm agents, used in suicides. Mushroom toxins include some lethal toxins that can cause painful, drawn out death.

Clinical toxinology

Within toxinology there is a clinical subgroup, clinical toxinologists, who focus on the medical effects in humans of exposure to the toxins in animal venoms or plant poisons. This includes such problems as venomous snakebite, currently considered to afflict >2.5 million people each year, with >100,000 deaths. Information on these medical consequences of toxins can be found in diverse sources, such as the Clinical Toxinology Resources Website and books such as Prof. Mebs book and the CRC book on toxinology. Clinical toxinology does not, yet, enjoy specialist status within medicine, unlike fields such as surgery and radiology. However, a training course in clinical toxinology has existed since 1997 (held in Adelaide, Australia) and efforts are under way to expand this to a true, specialist-level international training program, through an initiative of the International Society on Toxinology. Given the huge impact of toxin-based disease globally, the value of having doctors expert in this area is self-evident.


  1. ^ a b Mebs D (2002) Venomous and Poisonous Animals. CRC Press:Boca Raton. pg. 2
  2. ^ Meier J & White J (1995) Handbook of Clinical Toxicology of Animal Venoms and Poisons. CRC Press:Boca Raton
  3. ^ "Ist Website Home Page". 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 

External links

  • Toxins - an open access journal of toxinology.
  • [4] - the official website for the International Society on Toxinology
  • [5] - the website for the official journal (Toxicon) of the International Society on Toxinology
  • [6] - a website covering many toxin producing organisms, with a medical emphasis