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November 7, 1977

Venoms: Chemistry and Molecular Biology

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC

JAMA. 1977;238(19):2075. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280200087038

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The venoms of snakes are complex mixtures, chiefly proteins, many of which have enzymatic activities. Tu has, in one comprehensive volume, analyzed the venoms of snakes, scorpions, spiders, bees, wasps, ants, and Gila monsters to establish a better and more complete understanding of the chemistry and pharmacology of these variable toxins.

During recent years it has been shown that the more deleterious and lethal fractions of snake venoms are certain peptides and proteins of relatively low molecular weight, some of which are 5 to 20 times more lethal than the crude venom. Tu describes in detail the enzyme and protein content of venoms, giving an extensive treatment of the molecular aspects of venom components. The effects on cell membranes, blood coagulation, and subsequent hemorrhagic complications are well documented. Even the metabolic and teratogenic effects of snake venom are briefly discussed.

Added pluses for this book are the comprehensive reviews of