Snake Venom Turned Into Life-Saving Substance That Stops Bleeding

Fer de Lance (Bothrops atrox), a venomous viper coiled in the rainforest understory, Ecuador. Image Credit: Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

Snake venom is very dangerous but its incredible properties have been the subject of research for a long time. In particular, their potential use in medicine is attractive. The latest development could prove to be a game-changer when it comes to stopping bleeding in emergency situations.

The substance, derived from the venom of lancehead snakes (Bothrops atrox), is akin to a super sealant for tissues. As reported in Science Advances, the enzyme which it is based on is called reptilase (or batroxobin). It has 10 times the adhesive strength of clinical fibrin glue, which is the current state-of-the-art sealant used in medical settings.

The new hemostatic bioadhesive gel can stop bleeding in half the time compared to fibrin. Forty-five seconds versus 90 seconds. Possibly the difference between life or death. 

“During trauma, injury and emergency bleeding, this ‘super glue’ can be applied by simply squeezing the tube and shining a visible light, such as a laser pointer, over it for few seconds. Even a smartphone flashlight will do the job,” senior author professor Kibret Mequanint, from Western University, said in a statement.

The super sealant is not yet ready to be used but it has shown great promise in the lab. It has been tested in models for deep skin cuts, ruptured aortae, and severely injured livers. In humans, these would all be major bleeding situations.

“The next phase of study which is underway is to translate the tissue ‘super glue’ discovery to the clinic,” explained Mequanint.  


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