Skip to comments.Could Snake Venom Cure Cancer? Colorado Scientists Say Research Suggests So
Posted on 02/19/2020 6:54:38 AM PST by Red Badger
GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) A team of scientists at the University of Northern Colorado believe venom from venomous snakes could carry the cure to cancer. Dr. Stephen Mackessy, professor at UNCs School of Biology, says studies show venoms in different snakes can attack human cancer cells in unique ways.
To conduct the study, Mackessys students are given access to hundreds of snakes from around the world, all of which are stored in a secured facility on the campus of UNC. From rattlesnakes to vipers, the students are able to extract venom from each snake to study the compounds and proteins.
These are compounds that have evolved to kill other animals, and kill things in general, wreak havoc with living systems, Mackessy told CBS4s Dillon Thomas. It turns out they are actually a very logical place to look for therapeutics.
Mackessy said that when sharing his studies with the public, many times people automatically think of the dangers venomous snakes come with. However, most dont consider the benefits the reptiles can offer to humans.
People tend to have a visceral reaction to snakes in general, Mackessy said.
Snake venoms have been used since the 1950s to treat things like high blood pressure in millions of people around the globe. However, Mackessy said his lab is one of the first to research the possible uses of venom compounds to battle various forms of cancer.
When you think about looking for a therapeutic drug, you dont turn first to something like a venom or toxin as a source, Mackessy said.
PhD candidate Tanner Harvey has specifically been researching viper venoms, some of which come from habitats as close as southern Arizona. Each venom, in different doses, reacts to cancers uniquely.
(One viper venom) kills breast cancer really quickly at low doses. And, it kills colon cancer at low doses. But, it doesnt kill melanoma, Harvey said.
However, other venoms strongly react to melanoma.
Killing the cancer with venom isnt hard. Its not killing the patient at the same time thats the challenge. The team at UNC said their challenge is finding which compounds can be combined with other remedies to kill cancer efficiently, while preserving other life-dependent cells.
(Finding the proper doses and mixes) is just like panning for gold, Harvey said.
The study is still in preliminary phases. Once the team feels they have a solid answer to which venom compounds are safe to battle cancer with, the research would press on to one day potentially meet clinical studies.
When asked if students at UNC were capable of finding the cure to cancers, Mackessy said they were well on their way toward that direction.
There is no question they have the ability to make that kind of contribution, Mackessy said.
While Mackessys team is working toward the goal of curing cancers, another takeaway from their research was also offered. Both Mackessy and Harvey hope their research will encourage the public to stop senselessly killing snakes simply out of fear. While both said they understood human instinct to fear a snakes ability to take life, they hoped the public would ultimately come to value the snakes ability to preserve life at the same time.
You never really know what is going to come from a natural source, even something like a rattlesnake, Mackessy said. It may be, in fact, that these dangerous animals house in their venom something that one day may be lifesaving for you, or your family members.
“This new science amazes me, Sir Bedevere! Tell me again how sheep’s bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.”
One bite and you dont have to worry about cancer OR taxes anymore.
Some of us are hoping for a cure in our lifetime...
Professor Smith to Professor Jones - "How are we going to extract the snake venom we need?"
Professor Jones - "I know! Let's have the students do it. There's always plenty of them."
>>One bite and you dont have to worry about cancer OR taxes anymore.<<
Yes, but if you’re a Democrat, you’ll still be able to vote.
Killing the cancer with venom isnt hard. Its not killing the patient at the same time thats the challenge.
Makes sense. Some venoms are cytotoxic attacking blood and tissue. If they can be targeted at specific cancers that would be awesome.
Well, Dr. McCoy used a Klingon nerve agent to help the Enterprise crew in the TOS episode “The Tholian Web”.
The Reptile Gardens in the Black Hills could become a Cancer Treatment Center!
and so will the snake!
The patient will die anyways, so go for it!.............
California will post a warning label on it claiming it causes cancer.
I always chuckled that someday God would show man when Man’s heart is humble enough, that the cure for cancer has been right in front of him - like from poison ivy - i.e., confounding the ‘wise’. Snake venom is a better example of that.
Maybe He was eluding to it when He had Moses lift up the image of the snake as a method of healing.
I'd hate to have to extract it.
I hope the secured facility is seriously secured. I'd hate for those things to escape and reproduce. The Florida python problem is bad enough.
I believe snake venom can relieve breathing...
Student to 911: I’ve lost a very poisonous snake and I don’t know where it is!
[scream in the background]
I know where the snake is!.................
Some of us are hoping for a cure in our lifetime...
Some cancers are already cured. The overall survival rate is a lot better than it used to be.
“From rattlesnakes to vipers...”
Probably “getting in the weeds” here; but, rattlesnakes are pit vipers (Crotalinae); which are part of the viper family (Viperidae); so, the statement is, at best, redundant.
The use of snake and other venoms for treating diseases of various types is not new. I remember back in the early 1960’s I had an aunt who was being treated for hypertension w/a medication derived from a type of cobra venom.
Interesting article; though, thanks!
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