APR 07, 2017 09:54 AM PDT

What Cures are Hidden Inside Venoms?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Snakes, scorpions, and spiders represent some of the most known and studied poisonous animals on land. In the sea, the poisonous animals shift to mainly jellyfishes, anemones, and cone snails. Venoms from these animals are exquisitely designed to paralyze and kill prey. But why then are researchers hoping to save lives also after these toxic chemicals?

In order to thwart the effects of venom, researchers must understand how these chemicals act in the body. Detailed analysis of the venom can yield crucial protein information that can be leveraged to make antivenins.

Studying the composition of venoms also provides important clues about how certain diseases manifest, what pathways are involved, and what proteins may be curative. For example, venom from the deadly Australian funnel-web spider just inspired a new potential therapy for stroke patients. Other examples include the venom from the blue coral snake, otherwise known as the "killer of killers," which may be reworked into a potent pain medication like we've never had before.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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