Venom from some of the world’s deadliest snakes could soon be used to heal wounds and save lives when bleeding patients are taken to hospital.
This is because the reptilian poison cocktail contains proteins that help speed up blood clotting.
The research team at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is working on a “poison gel,” which has received follow-up funding from the US Department of Defense.
The “powerful” venom gel remains a liquid when kept in a cool place, but solidifies at body temperature to seal the wound.
It is hoped that this gel will eventually be sold in pharmacies, added to first aid kits and used by paramedics or military personnel in combat areas to stop the bleeding.
Postdoctoral researcher Amanda Kijas explained that uncontrolled bleeding is responsible for 40 percent of trauma-related deaths.
“This figure is much higher when it comes to military personnel with severe bleeding in a combat area,” Kijas added.
“We hope this gel will speed up the wound healing processes necessary for clotting and reducing blood flow, ultimately increasing the body’s ability to heal large wounds.
“The research shows that there is five times less blood loss and clots form three times faster when the venom gel is applied, compared to the body’s natural process.
“This even includes people with hemophilia and people on blood thinners.”
The research team is also exploring how the technology can treat burns and trauma injuries.
“Nature has created the most elegant and sophisticated mechanisms, and we can reuse them to save people from death,” Kijas said.
The venom gel is currently being tested in preclinical evaluations and will be scaled up to commercial use.
Australia’s eastern brown snake is the second deadliest land snake in the world. An untreated bite can be fatal within half an hour.