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Not being the only animal with no feet, no doubt snakes are the most excellent reptile without feet. Then how can snakes move so freely, quickly and smartly? That’s because snakes have locomotive organs all over the body, so they can move freely although they are long. Snakes have many backbones, around 100 to 500, short and broad, each one of which is connected with muscles and scales. The adjacent backbones can form a fluctuation of 28 degrees and a swing of 50 degrees. With these two combined, snakes’ unique winding function comes into being. In addition, snakes have a group of muscles on each side of its spinal column and when one group is in contraction, the other one is in relaxation. The wavelike motion can be spread from head to tail and then tail to head. With no obstacles during the process, this wavelike motion can be spread through the whole body. However, when the ground is uneven, bumpy or narrow, snakes’ motion is influenced and they move forward under the press produced at the point where snakes’ body touches the ground. So on smooth glass or tile floors, snakes are not so flexible. Besides, snakes’ backbones are limited in angles when they are in motion, and they will slow down when they change directions or turn around.
Snakes’ crawl velocity is a question concerned by many people. For most snakes, they can crawl at a highest speed of 1.5 km per hour. There are also several kinds of snakes, which move as fast as people at 6 km per hour. Garter snake moves very fast, while agkistrodon halys snake and erythema snake move quite slow.
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5:Naja naja atra
Without exception, all sea snakes are poisonous snakes, but the severity of toxicity is different with each other. Sea snake venom contains neurotoxic like cobra venom, but the strange thing is that it play a major role in skeletal
muscle, so it is called ciguatera.
Due to the complex composition of the sea snake venom, Most of the sea snake venom is harmful to people’s every organ, and may affect every cell, the cardiovascular system, respiratory and nervous systems. Some people think that the toxic of sea
snake vneom is 50 times more than toxic of cobra venom or is 80 times more than toxic of sodium cyanide. It is estimated
that 3.5 mg (dry weight) long-beaked sea snake venom, which is not the most poisonous in the sea snake, is enough to kill an adult,
this is only one-fifth of lethal dose of cobra venom. Sea snakes do not generally take the initiative to attack humans
. According to the 120 cases of snake bites, the fishermen is bit by sea snake venom when the fishermen picked the fish and
dived. Therefore, sea snake would seriously threaten to human. In coastal areas of Thailand, Vietnam and India,it often reported
that Some people have often been bit by sea snake.
China’s waters are known to have 15 kinds of sea snakes, for example, Lacticande semifasciata. Venoms from this sea snake have highly
toxic and is much bigger than those from the most poisonous snake on land. Because of its venom is a mixture of a variety of proteins,
freeze-dried venom of the sea accounts for about 90% of peptides, including enzymes, peptides, small peptides. After a structural analysis,
it was found that the short peptide chain of sea snake venom neurotoxin is composed of 60 -62 amino acid residues and four disulfide . Long polypeptide chain is composed of 66-74 amino acids residues and 5 disulfide bonds. They combine the high specificity acetylcholine receptors, blocking synaptic
transmission, mainly blocking cholinergic neuromuscular joints, causing paralysis, mostly respiratory muscle paralysis and
suffocation. It has been demonstrated that a variety of sea snake venom have a common antigen. Anti-snake venom serum, such as cleft chin sea of anti-snake venom toxins, can Offset 7-8 species of sea snake toxins, but also a variety of venoms from snakes on land, such as viper venom, cobra, king cobra snake
venom and so on. Therefore, sea snake antitoxin serum have High value and can cure snake bites in clinical treatment. Sea snake
wine can promote blood circulation and pain relief, commonly used for rheumatism pain and waist pain according to Traditional
Chinese Medicine. Although enzyme content of sea snake venom is less than those of snake on land. The venom of pit viper from
Dalian Snake Island is a ready-made L-arginine esterase (the fiber coagulation-like enzyme). It has achieved good results for treatment of vascular thrombosis disease and ischemic cerebrovascular disease.
Does the sea snake venom have the same effect?
With the depth of marine drugs research, sea snake venom will prove to be the precursor of marine drug material, and better
serve the cause of human health.
Researchers of the American Chemical Society are using found a protein from copperhead snake venom can slow breast tumor growth. The protein blocks tumor cell adhesion and invasion and inhibits new blood vessel development in the tumors. Researchers from Australia are using snake venom to cure cancer.
1:SVT(snake veom toxin) would inhibit the growth of AICAP
According to a article from Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, snake venom has positive effects for inhibiting the growth of AICAP. The molecular was on nuclear factor, an anti-apoptotic transcriptional factor that can activate AICAP cell. The scientists treated AICAP cells with SVT for 24 hours, and then assessed their growth and found it slow the activation of NF-b which can speed up cancer cell growth.
2: Australian found snake venom can slow Tumor growth.
According to the anti-cancer research hold by Australian, the researchers found that a compound from snake venom can destroy cells that contribute to supplying blood and nutrients to tumours.
“What we’ve found that’s quite interesting to us is that the level of material that’s required, that is the concentration of material that’s required, is much lower than we would have expected normally,” Associate Professor Tony Woods said.
“In fact, at the levels we’re using these compounds seem to affect the blood vessels that supply tumours only and not normal blood vessels.”
In the near future, more and more drugs which is used to cure cancer are from the snake venom.
Strokes is caused by thrombosis which is due to the clogging up of arteries
with fatty material. It can cause trouble swallowing, trouble speaking, reading
or writing, paralysis in the left side of the body, feeling depressed, permanent
neurological damage, complications and death.
Snake venom is already known to contain a variety or toxins which can inhibite the formation of clots. For example, people discoverd that blood did not clot after bitten by viper snake.
In a study led by Dr. David Sherman of the University of Texas Health
Science Center in San Antonio, Scientists found that 42 percent of stroke
patients who received ANCROD within three hours after the onset of the stroke had recovered the physicalthe. ANCROD which is made from
viper venom and cobra venom was given intravenously over a three-to-five day period after a stroke occurred. A research team from BHF which
has more than 25 years’ experience in the collection, storage and analysis
of snake venoms from around the world believe that te benefits of snake
venoms for heart patients are well-known and snake venom would cure heart attack and stroke.
Over 32,000,000 all over world people suffer a heart attack
every year and about 46% are fatal. Stroke causes a further
4,600,000 deaths a year.
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.
Snake venom is a gelatinous liquid, water cannot evaporate out. In order to obtain higher-quality snake venom, we need to dry snake venom as quickly as possible, and without losing its activity in the drying process. There are three kinds of drying methods, namely, vacuum drying at room temperature, freeze vacuum and low-temperature vacuum freeze-drying. The quality of the drying process has great impact on the quality of the venom. The following shall be a brief introduction of the drying process:
1, Drying method
1.1, Vacuum drying at room temperature.
Put the venom and desiccant such as silica gel or calcium chloride into the vacuum dryer, cover them with a layer of gauze, seal the vacuum dryer and exhaust it. In the process, if a large number of bubbles appear, we need to suspend extraction to prevent the bubble spill and continue it after a moment, repeat the process several times until completely drained. Snake venom is seen to be the crystallization of block sizes or particles by vacuum drying.
1.2, Freeze vacuum.
Place the entire vacuum dryer into a large ice bucket, fill small ices around the bucket bottom and the dryer, and exhaust the dryer like vacuum drying at room temperature. Venom can also be pre-placed in the refrigerator until the ice become into blocks, and then vacuum drying.
1.3. Low-temperature vacuum freeze-drying.
Its principle is similar with the vacuum freeze-drying, the difference is nothing absorbent to be used but equipment to dry venom. This method is fast drying speed, high output, easy operation and better ensure the quality of dried venom. But the equipment is expensive,which an ordinary company and a snake farm cannot afford.
2, Commonly used desiccants and their usage.
The commonly used desiccants for snake venom are coloured silica gel, anhydrous calcium chloride, phosphorus pentoxide.
2.1, Coloured silica gel: The color is green when it is dry, and will be lighter after absorbing water and finally becomes pink. After drying out for 1h at the temperature of 100～140 ℃, it can be reused safely and easily, but it is slower absorption.
2.2, Anhydrous calcium chloride: Its water absorption ability is outstanding and it can also be reused. At present, most farms are using this desiccant. Its price is cheaper and it is also easy to use.
2.3, Phosphorus pentoxide: It can be used together with the anhydrous calcium chloride, and it has strong suction. The disadvantage is not easy to re-use, more complex procedures.
Snake venom is one kind of special liquid, which is produced by the poison gland of the poisonous snake. The main ingredient is the toxic protein. It contains more than 20 kinds of enzymes and toxins. In addition, it also contains a number of small peptides, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleosides, biological amines and metal ions. The composition of the venom is complex. The toxicity, pharmacological and toxicological roles of different snake venom are different and characteristic. Snake venoms divide into hemolysis and neuropathic-type venom. The hemolysis venom is more effective than the neuropathic-type venom, and it will work almost immediately to the prey such as the mouse.
The properties of snake venom：
Fresh snake venom is a slightly fishy smell of the egg-like viscous liquid which color is always yellow, green, or even colorless. Fresh snake venom is neutral or weak acid, and it will become into alkaline when it is placed for a long time. Water accounted for 50% to 75%. When exposed to air, fresh venom is easy to produce foam, and it will become non-venomous and putrid when it is placed 24 hours at room temperature. After vacuum drying or freeze-drying treatment, the venom can be stored at room temperature for 20 to 30 years. However, toxic intensity and enzyme activity would be slightly lower. Irradiated by UV or heated, the toxic will disappear. Dealt with formaldehyde, the toxic will also disappear, but the antigen is retained.
Snake venom is characterized by very complex composition. The toxic components of snake venom from different snake species or even from the same snake secreted in different seasons are differences. Snake venom mainly consists of neurotoxins, cardiac toxins, toxin blood clotting, bleeding toxins and enzymes and other major components. In addition, it contains a number of small peptides, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleosides, biological amines and metal ions, some of which have biological activity or have a certain relationship with the biological activity. After purified, the toxic ingredient will be bigger than the original venom 5~20 times.
Types of snake venom:
1, blood circulation toxin:
Viper, Trimeresurus stejnegeri and Agkistrodon acutus are examples of such toxins. It can cause rapid swelling of the bite wound, bleeding, pain. The skin will become purplish, black and necrotic. After 6-8 hours, it could be spread to the head, neck, limbs and lower back. If the bite wound has not treated effectively within 4 hours, at the last death will occur due to heart failure or shock.
Bungarus fasciatus and Bungarus multicinctus are examples of such toxins. After the bite, local symptoms were not obvious, less bleeding, swelling and slight fever. However, within a few hours after injury, the rapid systemic symptoms, patients with anxiety excitement, groaning with pain, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, convulsions, respiratory muscle paralysis and the death will appear. In addition, some scientists are now studying this neurotoxin can be used to treat some parasites in the human nervous system of virus such as the rabies viruses.
3, mixed toxins:
Cobra and King Cobra’s are examples of such toxins. After the toxin is absorbed, the general symptom both have the nerve symptom and harm which were caused by blood circulation toxin.
The role of snake venom:
1, Cure for cancer:
Cancer is one of the three biggest diseases, which is harmful to human health. There is no effective treatment, the research on snake venom is seen to be a new field to overcome this difficulty by scientists from various countries. Laboratory of China Medical University conducted a drug testing which compared the original viper venom and pure venom’s role in inhibiting tumor. The 9 different concentrations of snake venom have different roles to inhibit mouse’s sarcoma, the efficient is up to 87.1%.
2,The anticoagulant effects of snake venom:
The “DEFIBRASE” which is extracted from five-step snake passed technical appraisal in 1981 for the treatment of vascular thrombosis 333 cases, of which 242 cases are cerebral thrombosis. The efficient is up to 86.4%.
Procoagulant component extracted from the viper is used in clinical surgery, internal medicine, ENT, obstetrics and other bleeding disorders. This drug called “Reptile Enzyme Injection”.
4,Manufacture of anti-venom serum:
Scientists have successfully developed the blood serums of anti-Snake venom, anti-five-step snake venom, anti-Bungarus multicinctus venom and anti-cobra venom.
Ketongling extracted from cobra venom has an excellent analgesic effect on the pain induced by a variety of diseases. As the higher analgesic activity and no addiction, snake venom in medicine has been used instead of morphine to therapy the pain caused by advanced cancer.
The biggest roles of snake venom:
1, the treatment of cancer; 2, hemostasis and anti-coagulation; 3, analgesic; 4, manufacture of anti-venom serum; 5, scientific research; 6, lower blood pressure; 7, treatment of headache cause by blood stasis; 8, application on the nerve growth factor.