Friends or Foes? Emerging Impacts of Biological Toxins

Graeme C. Clark*, Nicholas R. Casewell, Christopher T. Elliott, Alan L. Harvey, Andrew G. Jamieson, Peter N. Strong, Andrew D. Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Toxins are substances produced from biological sources (e.g., animal, plants, microorganisms) that have deleterious effects on a living organism. Despite the obvious health concerns of being exposed to toxins, they are having substantial positive impacts in a number of industrial sectors. Several toxin-derived products are approved for clinical, veterinary, or agrochemical uses. This review sets out the case for toxins as ‘friends’ that are providing the basis of novel medicines, insecticides, and even nucleic acid sequencing technologies. We also discuss emerging toxins (‘foes’) that are becoming increasingly prevalent in a range of contexts through climate change and the globalisation of food supply chains and that ultimately pose a risk to health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-379
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2019


  • biosciences
  • drug discovery
  • food/water safety
  • toxinology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

Cite this