Snake venom is dangerous, but now more and more scientists believe that it has great usefulness to human, especially in the field of medicine.
Snake venom is a toxic saliva consisting of a complex mixture of chemicals called enzymes. The toxins of snake venom contain neurotoxins and hemotoxins. Neurotoxic venom attacks the victim’s nervous system and usually result in heart failure. Cobras, mambas, sea snakes, kraits and coral snakes employ mainly neurotoxic venom. Hemotoxic venom attacks the circulatory system and muscle tissue causing excessive scarring, gangrene, and sometimes leads to amputation. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottomouths employ hemotoxic venom. Some snakes employ venom that contains combinations of both neurotoxins and hemotoxins.
Approximately 20 types of toxic enzymes are found in snake venom. Most snakes employ from six to twelve of these enzymes in their venom. Some enzymes help the snake to digest food. The chemicals from snake venom contain cholinesterase, amino acid oxidase, hyaluronidase, proteinase, adenosine triphosphatase, phosphodiesterase.
Scientists have made great progress in finding within this new-found knowledge of venom any benefits for humans. The biggest role of the snake venom is used to produce “antivenom” now. Besides the obvious benefits to produce antivenom, there are many exciting discoveries in various studies that gives promise on many medical fronts. In Israel, A company is using snake venom to make a potent analgesic against chronic pain such as arthritis, and secondary pain caused by other diseases such as cancer. Cobra venom is useful for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. An enzyme derived from copperhead venom Contributes to cure breast cancer. Some viper venom can cure osteoporosis and inhibit tumor growth. The venom of pit viper may break blood clots that would be very beneficial in treating stroke victims. Extracts of snake venom is used to produce anticoagulants. Proteins from certain rattle snakes has produced blood pressure medicine. Snake venom lectins and metalloproteinase disintegrins are being used to study platelet glycoprotein receptors. In general, the snake venom has show great potential for producing huge medical benefits for mankind.