Highlights in Toxinology: Challenges and Progress
Edited by Benedito Barraviera and Maria Elena de Lima
We are pleased to publish in Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases a collection focused on the latest advances in the field of Toxinology.
The history of venom studies traces back more than two millennia. Aristotle (384-322 BC), for example, in his Historia Animalium he offered details on venomous animals and their bites. Initially, venom studies were focused only on medical outcomes due to the high number of fatalities occurring especially in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Currently, enormous progress has been made aiming to treat or prevent deleterious or deadly actions of toxins from animals and plants. Moreover, venoms have become an almost inexhaustible source of biologically active molecules. Among those, several are models for drugs or tools for studying the structure and function of biological systems, such as the nervous, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and others.
More than 20% of the world biodiversity is found in Brazil, where the study of animal venoms and toxins began in the 1900s with the pioneering work of Vital Brazil Mineiro da Campanha, a physician internationally renowned for the discovery of antivenom specificity. Since then, Brazil has invested little in the area of Toxinology. One of the most successful projects, called Toxinologia-CAPES, was launched in 2010 by the Brazilian Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES).
In 2016, the moment in which the project is being concluded, it is possible to celebrate the qualification of dozens of masters and doctors and hundreds of students, who participated in international congresses and presented their thesis and dissertations with brilliance. Needless to say that several discovered molecules became candidates for drug development, which means that countless papers were published and numerous patents were submitted.
In this special collection, we wish to honor the researchers that took part in the Toxinologia-CAPES project by publishing their best production of the period, which demonstrates the high level of science in Brazil in this area. It also reinforces the need of continuous support to the research on natural substances of this great biodiversity, because knowledge is the key to preservation.
This collection has been funded by CAPES (Edital Toxinologia 063/2010) and articles have undergone the journal’s standard peer-review process. The Editors declare no competing interests.