Snakes are a major phobia to a lot of people, even when they’re they largely harmless variety. But there are groups of people who enjoy and appreciate them and it’s a good thing these people exist. Otherwise some big medical advancement might have been overlooked. Nature is the greatest repository of medical advancement. Many drugs we now take for granted and use every day are derived from natural sources of all varieties; from plants and bark to venom. It’s this last substance that may be the genesis of a new type of heart drug.
Researchers in Taiwan have isolated a molecule from the venom of the Wagler’s Pit Viper. The molecule essentially prevents blood platelets from sticking together. This prevents clots from forming in the blood and reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Medications already exist to do this. The side-effect from these medications tends to be increased risk of bleeding which can be a big problem. Wounds will bleed more because the blood is thinner and is medicated not to clot. This new molecule seems to solve this problem. It has the desired effect of reducing blood clots. But if there is bleeding, it lasts no longer than it would in a person not taking the medication. That’s a big step in the right direction.
New drugs based on this research are far off down the road. Medical innovation is fascinating but slow. Researchers have to determine if there are any long term negative side effects. It would have to be formulated to last in the body rather than breaking down too quickly. It could take years for this to move from small scale experimentation to human trials and regulatory approval. Nonetheless it could revolutionize heart medications by making them safer. No doubt nature contains many more breakthrough drugs that have yet to be discovered; even if it means dealing with snakes.