Best animal life saving cures

Posted on Apr 23, 2013 in Us and them

Animals have venom to kill other animals.  That much is obvious.  What’s less commonly known is that some creatures’ deadly toxins actually go towards making some of our most needed medicines.  Scorpions are helping prevent tumours from developing, bees are providing sensory acupuncture – and if you need your blood sugar keeping in check, just ask a big old lizard to donate you some saliva.

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Indian Cobra

photo: Alina Sofia

Health snake – Cobra venom

Despite cobras being some of the world’s deadliest snakes, the Indian cobra has provided the country with a venom that traditional medicine has stood by for centuries.  It’s been discovered that the cobra’s venom actually contains chemicals that prevent skin proteins such as collagen from wasting away – meaning it has provided a bizarre source of relief for sufferers of arthritis!  It is suggested that other snakes perhaps contain this trick, too.

 

Spider power – Tarantula venom

Scientists at the University of Buffalo in the USA have discovered that a protein concealed within a tarantula’s non-fatal venom can actually promote muscle growth and retention.  This ingredient has been tested on laboratory mice and it’s said that given time and research it could help create a cure for muscular dystrophy, a muscle wasting disorder that mainly affects children.  It’s not an outright cure yet, but these hairy eight-leggers may well hold the secret to one of the cruellest afflictions to befall humanity.”

 

Give tumours a sting – Deathstalker scorpion venom

Deathstalker scorpions are just one of many desert stingers who carry a deadly poison – and scientists have discovered the these beasts actually carry a concentrated amount of chlorotoxin, an amino acid that effectively sticks itself to proteins and can prevent anything from passing its sticky gate.  Think of it like a barrier – scientists believe this this can be used to prevent the spread of tumour cells, therefore helping fight certain cancers!”

 

How does venom create a cure? It’s all down to fine-tuning the venom. Animal venom has evolved to be extremely successful in locating and shutting down certain bodily functions – such as the cone snail affecting the nervous system – and is therefore not only extremely powerful, but also incredibly precise. This means that researchers and scientists can take the ‘bad’ venom and fine-tune it to make ‘good’ venom – and unleash it on diseases and disorders. There are around twelve marketed venom-based medicines in circulation, with many more on the horizon.

 

The weapon is also the cure – scorpions again 

Scorpions are shaping up to be quite the useful animal!  Some scorpion stings carry a chemical called Antarease which can affect the human pancreas in a negative way – however, it’s been discovered that extracting and injecting the compound directly into pancreatic tissue can actually prevent damage that it may have already created in its pure form!”

 

Don’t be nervous – Cone snail venom

The aquatic cone snail is a beach-dweller that is surprisingly potent – it’s actually one of the world’s deadliest creatures with a toxin that will most certainly leave anything dead without treatment!  Its venom mainly shuts down nerve channels, which has inspired scientists to study and develop a super-efficient painkiller that directly blocks off pain channels – by numbing various areas of the nervous system!

 

Honey monster – Gila venom

The Gila monster, a hulking poisonous lizard, actually carries a key ingredient to a diabetes control medicine in its spit!  Gila saliva contains enzymes which help control blood sugar, which have been used in the creation of a product called Byetta – which helps diabetics keep their insulin level under control, providing much relief!”

 

Stinging for sense – Bee stings

While much animal venom and proteins for medicinal use are often dug deep for, a procedure called apitherapy sees bee stings being used directly to help provide sensitivity back to people affected by multiple sclerosis.  It’s also said to help beat cases of Lyme disease and arthritis – as the painful venom is completely harmless long-term, but also helps to deter any invading illnesses!

 

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