It takes a creative (and brave) person to look at a poisonous snake or spider and think, "Hey, maybe I can extract that venom and turn it into medicine!" Fortunately for many seriously ill patients, though, many people have the temerity to do just that -- the poisonous stuff that trickles from fangs is being developed as treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s, muscular dystrophy, and even cancer.
What exactly is venom?
In most cases, venom is an offensive tool meant to kill or immobilize prey, and toxins in venom can attack tissue (which can literally rot your flesh), the nervous system (which can lead to paralysis), and sometimes both. Encounters with venomous animals kill 57,000 people per year, though some experts think the numbers could be closer to 94,000.