Treatments and Toxin Discovery
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has renewed Lewis & Clark’s grant in support of Associate Professor of Biology Greta Binford’s project, “Comparative venomes of recluse spiders and kin: treatments and toxin discovery.” Supported by the Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program, this three-year multidisciplinary project will involve undergraduate students in cutting-edge bioinformatics-based research using proteomics and high throughput sequencing of transcriptomes. It will provide them with the opportunity to experience the power of applying integrative evolutionary approaches to issues of public health. The data collected will provide a comprehensive, comparative set of protein and peptide components in venoms of brown recluse spiders and their relatives. Comparative analyses will help decipher the mechanisms of evolutionary origin of venom toxins that cause dermonecrotic lesions. They will also inform risks associated with sicariid bites, and strategies for developing globally effective diagnostics and treatments. Discovery of lesser-known venom toxins will provide a platform for further investigation, including peptides with promise as pain modulators and antimicrobials. More about Dr. Binford’s work is available here.