Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease caused by a deficiency in production of insulin by the beta cells of the pancreas (type 1 diabetes, T1D), or by partial deficiency of insulin production and the ineffectiveness of the insulin produced (type 2 diabetes, T2D). Animal venoms are a unique source of compounds targeting ion channels and receptors in the nervous and cardiovascular systems. In recent years, several venom peptides have also emerged as pharmacological tools and therapeutics for T1D and T2D. Some of these peptides act directly as mimics of endogenous metabolic hormones while others act on ion channels expressed in pancreatic beta cells. Here, we provide an overview of the discovery of these venom peptides, their mechanisms of action in the context of diabetes, and their therapeutic potential for the treatment of this disease.
This article is part of the Special Issue entitled ‘Venom-derived Peptides as Pharmacological Tools.’