Southeast Asian pit viper are considered among the deadliest snakes in the world -- known locally as the "100 pacer snake," referring to the number of steps a bite-victim is said to be able to take before succumbing to its venom. But a medical researcher from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto says the deadly snake could actually be a life-saver.
According to Dr. Heyu Ni, the viper's venom contains an agent, called Anfibatide, which prevents blood from clotting. But unlike current blood-thinning medications, it does not cause prolonged bleeding. Ni says this discovery could be used to treat the early onset of strokes and heart attacks.
"What we're going to target is the early stage. If a patient has chest pain, it could stop the disease becoming worse," Dr. Ni tells the Canadian Press.
"The concept that we can harness something potentially poisonous in nature and turn it into a beneficial therapy is very exciting."
Scientists believe that compounds found in venom from snakes and other animals could be a game-changer in the world of medicine -- potentially offering superior treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and heart disease.
"We aren't talking just a few novel drugs but entire classes of drugs," says toxinologist and herpetologist Zoltan Takacs. "It's huge. Venom has opened up whole new avenues of pharmacology."