Can rattlesnakes and other poisonous reptiles to benefit man? Scientists, United European research project say that, Yes, because toxic substances contained in the composition of the poison, have great potential for the treatment of diabetes, obesity, allergies.
The programme “FutuRIS” visited a unique farm in Belgium where to throw “medical” snakes. Biochemist Loic Cantin shows and tells: “This poison dangerous snakes from South America. Before us is a very active and complex chemical cocktail. We want to know which of its components have the potential to create drugs.”
Scientists use mass spectrometers and other sophisticated equipment to produce toxins from venoms of the nearly 200 species of animals. Only recently, they described and classified 4 thousands of new mini-proteins. Loic continues: “We see on the screen of the computer graphic expression of the molecular composition of each sample of the poison, here is something we analyze. The different components are ordered and classified according to their mass. The peaks on the graph is the toxins”.
So, the toxins are identified, then isolated by complicated biological and chemical processes. The next step is verification of their biological effectiveness on individual molecular targets. The results are encouraging. Researchers say that cures for certain diseases on the basis of the poison – no longer the plot of science fiction. Pharmacologist Nicolas Gilles explains: “We focused on diabetes and obesity. For these diseases need new drugs. The discovery and classification process toxins take around 2-3 years. Then you need 10-15 years to develop, test, and certification of a new drug before it is released to the market.”
Besides benefits for our health, scientists hope that their research can benefit animals with which they work, changing our stereotypical attitude towards them. Biologist Rudi Formation says: “the Majority of these species under threat of extinction. They suffer from poaching, the natural ecosystem is destroyed. If we can show that these animals really necessary, useful, perhaps, they will be better treated, but they will help us to take care of our health.”