Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Snake venom as medication?

11.06.2007
A chemist at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) is looking for unusual structures in snake venom and plans to prove their medical effectiveness. What in the 1950s led to the development of Captopril, a drug for the treatment of hypertension, is being continued in an interesting new chapter with the analysis of venom from South American pit vipers and tropical rattlesnakes.

"We receive the snake venom as a yellow crystalline powder in ampules directly from the 'Instituto Butantan' (http://www.butantan.gov.br/) in São Paulo, Brazil. That is a well-known scientific institution, also popular with tourists, which studies some of the most poisonous snake species in the world," explains Martina Marchetti, assistant professor at the Institute for Chemical Technologies and Analytics at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna).

Her investigations focus on the venoms of four different pit vipers (Bothrops) as well as a tropical rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus terrificus). All five species are native to South America. They are among the most aggressive snake varieties there. Every year in South America, 2.5 million people are bitten by snakes. About 100,000 die as a result.

Marchetti analyzes the snake venoms by various methods. She and her coworkers use lab-on-a-chip technology to determine the composition of the toxins and analyze peptide chains (linear sequences of amino acids). The structures of individual members of these chains are then analyzed using tandem mass spectrometry. Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis offers another option for separating samples by molecular weight and pH. According to Marchetti, "Not every snake venom is the same. Time and again we encounter unusual new structures. The goal of our research is to find out why individual components of the venom act in a particular way and what they may have to offer to the pharmaceutical industry." A deliberately administered toxic effect in the right amount can actually be beneficial to human health. Snake toxins have a very broad field of potential use, including antibacterial applications, cell growth inhibition, nerve stimulation, blood thinning and clotting. Their effects are also being tested for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

As a result of proteome research, which has become popular in recent years, a number of new analytical methods have been developed. Combinations of these methods allow to uncover clues in order to solve the riddle of the medical effectiveness of snake venom. Of course, another goal is to develop effective antivenoms, which, according to Marchetti, "might some day be available to take along in tablet form."

Her investigations have been conducted in collaboration with Walter Welz at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. Researchers first noticed the pharmacological effectiveness of snake venoms in the process of developing antisera. Such investigations in the 1950s resulted in the development of the hypertension drug Captopril, for which the structural information from a peptide (protein) isolated from snake venom served as an archetype.

Daniela Ausserhuber | alfa
Further information:
http://www.tuwien.ac.at/index.php?id=3880
http://www.tuwien.ac.at/aktuelles/news_detail/article/4016/16/

Further reports about: Marchetti analyze effectiveness investigations

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>