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 In living color: Brightly-colored bacteria could be used to 'grow' paints and coatings
20.02.2018 | University of Cambridge

nachricht Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality
20.02.2018 | University of California - San Diego

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times fast

20.02.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Hidden talents: Converting heat into electricity with pencil and paper

20.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Rare find from the deep sea

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>