Thisssssss exciting discovery could be life ssssssssaving
The eastern brown viper prefers to lurk in hiding places in order to catch Australian rodents. They are the second most lethal land snake, capable of killing a human in less than half an hour, but their venom (and that of the Australia saw-scaled viper) may have some life-saving properties. Who would have guessed that snake venom could be used to save lives? That’s right, some astute scientists.
The University of Queensland team created a “venom gel” out of two recombinant snake venom proteins. This rapid wound sealant can both initiate and prevent blood clot breakdown. The paper was published in Advanced Healthcare Materials by the team from the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).
Venom is normally a very complex matrix containing proteins that aid in blood clotting. The venom gel remains liquid but solidifies at body temperature, providing the intriguing property of sealing wounds. Currently, first aid training is based on the use of gauze, which does not always stop the bleeding.
Once developed and tested, the venom gel could be a life-saving addition to public and military first-aid kits.
“Uncontrolled bleeding causes up to 40% of trauma-related deaths, and this figure is much higher when it comes to military personnel with serious bleeding in a combat zone,” Amanda Kijas, Postdoctoral Research Fellow working on the project, said in a statement. “Nature has created the most elegant and sophisticated mechanisms, which we can repurpose to prevent people from dying as a result of uncontrolled bleeding.”
“The research shows that when the venom gel is applied, there is five times less blood loss and clots form three times faster than the body’s natural process.” “This includes people with haemophilia and those who use blood thinners,” says Kijas.
This venom gel is currently undergoing pre-clinical testing and may be scaled up for commercial use. This research is being carried out in collaboration with Mark Midwinter of the University of Queensland’s School of Biomedical Sciences.
“When there is a traumatic injury, the complexity of the healing process overwhelms the body’s capacity to control the bleeding,” Kijas explained. “We hope that this gel will accelerate wound-healing processes such as clotting and blood flow reduction, ultimately increasing the body’s capacity to heal large wounds.”
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