Biting back: Snake venom contains toxic clotting factors

Feb 27, 2013

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 (JVATiTD). 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, 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 on blood are of interest because of medical applications, and although snakes can be considered as dangerous to humans – they may yet save lives.

In the auspicious Year of the Snake, BioMed Central, the open access publisher, is pleased to announce that the Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including (JVATiTD), the official academic journal of the The Center for the Study of Venoms and Venomous Animals (CEVAP) of São Paulo State University (UNESP), based in Brazil, has moved to BioMed Central's open access publishing platform. Also this journal marks growth of 's portfolio of open access journals to 250.

Along with research into snakes JVATiTD publishes studies into all aspects of toxins, , and their derivative products, as well as tropical diseases especially infectious diseases, parasites and immunology.

Explore further: In battle of the sexes, a single night with a New York male is enough to kill

More information: In vivo evaluation of homeostatic effects of Echis carinatus snake venom in Iran Hossein Salmanizadeh, Mahdi Babaie and Hossein Zolfagharian, Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases 2013, 19:3 (in press)

Related Stories

Poisonous Poisson

Dec 04, 2009

In contrast to the exhaustive research into venom produced by snakes and spiders, venomous fish have been neglected and remain something of a mystery. Now, a study of 158 catfish species, published in the ...

Snake venoms share similar ingredients

Dec 20, 2007

Venoms from different snake families may have many deadly ingredients in common, more than was previously thought. A study published in the online open access journal BMC Molecular Biology has unexpectedly discovered three- ...

Rapid venom evolution in pit vipers may be defensive

Jul 18, 2011

Research published recently in PLoS One delivers new insight about rapid toxin evolution in venomous snakes: pitvipers such as rattlesnakes may be engaged in an arms race with opossums, a group of snake-eating American marsup ...

Venom tears: Snake bites can turn out to be groovy

May 13, 2011

Many people worry about the manner of their death. Death by car accident, death by cancer and death by gunshot are some of the more dreaded ways to go. No less awful is the prospect of death by snakebite. ...

Recommended for you

Do you have the time? Flies sure do

5 hours ago

Flies might be smarter than you think. According to research reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on May 28, fruit flies know what time of day it is. What's more, the insects can learn to con ...

Barking characterizes dogs as voice characterizes people

8 hours ago

An international group of researchers has conducted a study on canine behavior showing that gender, age, context and individual recognition can be identified with a high percentage of success through statistical ...

Bird beaks feeling the heat of climate change, say scientists

10 hours ago

While the human population grapples with ways to counter the effects of climate change, Deakin University research has discovered that birds might have been working on their own solution for the past 145 years – grow bigger ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.