Haemotoxic snake venoms: their functional activity, impact on snakebite victims and pharmaceutical promise

Julien Slagboom, Jeroen Kool, Robert A. Harrison, Nicholas R. Casewell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Snake venoms are mixtures of numerous proteinacious components that exert diverse functional activities on a variety of physiological targets. Because the toxic constituents found in venom vary from species to species, snakebite victims can present with a variety of life-threatening pathologies related to the neurotoxic, cytotoxic and haemotoxic effects of venom. Of the 1·8 million people envenomed by snakes every year, up to 125 000 die, while hundreds of thousands survive only to suffer with life-changing long-term morbidity. Consequently, snakebite is one of the world's most severe neglected tropical diseases. Many snake venoms exhibit strong haemotoxic properties by interfering with blood pressure, clotting factors and platelets, and by directly causing haemorrhage. In this review we provide an overview of the functional activities of haemotoxic venom proteins, the pathologies they cause in snakebite victims and how their exquisite selectivity and potency make them amenable for use as therapeutic and diagnostic tools relevant for human medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-959
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • envenoming
  • haemorrhage
  • neglected tropical diseases
  • toxin
  • venom-induced consumption coagulopathy


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