JUL 12, 2018 5:58 AM PDT

Some Medicines are Made From Animal Toxins

If you’ve spent any time camping or hiking, you’ve probably got a good idea of what animals are dangerous. Snakes and other reptiles that bite or squirt poison can kill someone instantly with just one strike. One of the most well-known toxins used for medical purposes is the botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox. Just a gram can kill you, and 999,999 of your friends. It’s known for reducing wrinkles, but it began as a treatment for eye conditions and is sometimes used for migraine relief as well. Captopril, an ingredient in viper venom is used to reduce blood pressure. Ziconotide which comes from a snail is deadly to ocean fish but is used in painkillers. As opposed to opioids which act on the brain, conotides block pathways so that pain signals cannot get through.

Exenatide which comes from Gila monster venom is a key ingredient in diabetic medications that lower blood sugar. Toxins that cause e.coli and some forms of norovirus and food poisoning are called enterotoxins. While they can empty you out pretty fast, for patients with IBS or chronic constipation, they are a helpful treatment to keep things moving along. A Caribbean sea anemone is packed with a toxin that, while not yet approved, is being investigated as a treatment for autoimmune disease. So while these toxins might be deadly in some ways, in others they are also life-saving.

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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