Potions From Poisons

If you're prospecting for new drugs in nature--which scientists continue to do, with or without the genome--there's no better place to start than the business end of a good poisonous plant or animal. Modern medicine is filled with drugs derived from deadly poisons, from the muscle relaxant curare (taken from South American vines that are used to poison arrow tips) to the anticoagulant Aggrastat (based on the venom of the saw-scaled viper).

The potency of these compounds is no accident. After all, each is part of an organism's defense and predatory mechanisms, whose specificity has been honed over millions of years...

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