Home Daily Blitz How Venoms Are Shaping Medical Advances

How Venoms Are Shaping Medical Advances


The following is an excerpt from Alfie Shaw | October 21, 2018 | BBC.com |

The dangers of venoms are well documented, but these deadly toxins can also save lives.

Toxicologist Dr Zoltan Takacs says: "Venom toxins are the only molecules on Earth explicitly selected by evolution to take a life in less than one minute”. In 2015, David Warrell, tropical medicine specialist at Oxford University, estimated that 200,000 deaths a year were caused by snakebites.

The development of new antivenom is an ongoing struggle, however researchers have found that the toxins found in venoms can also aid in treating other medical conditions and several venom-based drugs are already in use. Here are four species whose venoms are being used to benefit humankind.

Snake venom is a term that covers a wide array of different venoms. Some kill quickly while others take time.

Most snakes deliver their poison through fangs that operate in a similar method to a syringe. Once the fang has pierced their victims flesh, the poison is delivered through the tooth and directly into the prey’s bloodstream. The exceptions to this are snakes who spit their venom, like the Mozambique spitting cobra (Naja mossambica).

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