Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Clotting Factors from a Saw-scaled Viper

Saw Scaled Viper In Mangaon, MH, India.
Photo credit: Shantanu Kuveskar

The powerful venom of the saw-scaled viper Echis carinatus contains both anticoagulants and coagulants finds a study published in the launch edition of BioMed Central's open access journal Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases. These may be a source of potent drugs to treat human disease.

The saw-scaled viper family Echis, responsible for most snake attacks on humans, are recognizable by the 'sizzling' noise they make, produced by rubbing together special serrated scales, when threatened. Echis venom causes coagulopathy, which can result in symptoms ranging from lack of blood clotting, hemorrhage, renal failure and stroke.

Researchers from the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Iran led by Hossein Zolfagharian noted that treating plasma with venom from Echis carinatus actually causes it to coagulate. Splitting the venom by ion exchange chromatography showed that then venom contained both coagulants and anticoagulants. The clotting factors alone were toxic to mice.

The diametric effects of snake venom on blood are of interest because of medical applications, and although snakes can be considered as dangerous to humans -- they may yet save lives.

Citation
Hossein Salmanizadeh, Mahdi Babaie and Hossein Zolfagharian. In vivo evaluation of homeostatic effects of Echis carinatus snake venom in Iran. Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases, 2013, 19:3 DOI: 10.1186/1678-9199-19-3

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