Facebook Twitter

Could venom heal your injuries? Here’s what we know

Researchers are trying to find out if venom can heal injuries and become a new medicine

SHARE Could venom heal your injuries? Here’s what we know
A researcher demonstrates how to extract venom from a snake in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

A researcher demonstrates how to extract venom from a snake to schoolchildren during presentation at the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Friday, Jan. 23, 2015.

Andre Penner, Associated Press

Scientists are looking into whether venom can act as a medicine for injuries, according to National Geographic.

  • “Thanks to technological advances in the past decade, there’s now a wealth of data about how different venoms behave and affect the body,” National Geographic reports.
  • Some of the new research shows that venom “could lead to exciting new therapies to treat pain, cancer, and more” because of its chemistry and makeup, per National Geographic.

Mandë Holford, an associate professor of chemistry at Hunter College and City University of New York Graduate Center, told National Geographic that venom can be harmful, but there are potential ways for it to help people.

  • Venom is “the supervillain and the superhero,” she said.
  • “Unless we can understand the language of how venom genes evolve and function, then we’re really just sort of tinkering at the surface,” she added.

This isn’t exactly new, though. Multiple researchers have examined whether snake venom or tarantula venom can be pain relief for people, helping people get through injuries and illness in much of the same way opioids have offered relief.

In 2017, the University of Utah Health received $10 million from the Department of Defense to research how venom could be used as an alternative to opioids to treat pain, per the Deseret News.

  • Venom from animals such as marine mollusks like snails and slugs contain venom that could remedy pain, researchers said at the time.
  • “Each has a couple hundred different components (in their venom),” said Dr. J. Michael McIntosh, a professor of psychiatry at the U. and one of the principal investigators with the project. “We’re really just beginning to figure out how many are in (the venom). There are probably thousands. Which are of interest remains to be determined.”