And the potential for serpent-derived medicine is bigger still.
Vipers helped scientists develop heart and kidney drugs
In the late 1960s, scientists derived angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors from the venom of Brazilian pit vipers. Today, ACE inhibitors are still an essential treatment for hypertension, congestive heart failure, and chronic kidney disease.
Rattlesnake venom led to the development of a tumor-fighter
In 2002, researchers looked to rattlesnake venom, which contains something called crotoxin, a chemical compound that uniquely aims its toxicity at specific cells -- those found in the blood and muscles. Building on this mechanism of action, scientists created a treatment called CB24, which works similarly, but instead seeks and destroys tumor cells.
The black mamba could help cure Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
No, not Kobe Bryant, who gave himself that nickname. Scientists in Puerto Rico are exploring how the venom of one of the world’s most infamous and lethal snakes, the black mamba, may hold the cure for nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Mamba venom attaches to very specific receptors in the brain, and researchers hope that by discovering exactly how this happens, they can develop targeted therapies for brain diseases.