This bizarre revelation comes from Dr. Naftali Primor, research and development manager for Shulov Institute for Sciences Ltd (SIS) in Israel, who said that certain chemicals in snake venom may help treat arthritis – a condition that affects over 46 million people in the United States alone.
“The scientific team that Primor heads at SIS has identified the chemicals in the snake venom of cobras, vipers and rattlers. The company is using this knowledge to make a potent analgesic against chronic pain such as arthritis, and secondary pain caused by other diseases such as cancer. Primor suspects that the venom has therapeutic properties also, but more studies need to be done,” according to Britain Israel Communications and Research Center (BICOM).
As early as 2002, there have been reports of people who were mysteriously cured of arthritis after being bitten by snakes. Jose de Casa, 66, a longtime arthritis sufferer from Northamptonshire in England, was cleaning his garden when an adder bit him. For the next few months, he was pain-free.
“After the bite I noticed that the usual pain that I have in the joint of my finger had gone completely and this lasted for three or four weeks. Then the pain was reduced for a couple of months, although it is now back to normal," he told the BBC News.
Primor believes the bad publicity surrounding snakes is unfair, considering that these creatures occupy an importance place in medicine. As far as he can remember, he has always been fond of snakes. Little did he know he would bring back his slithering friends into the limelight again.
In 1986, his friend the late Professor Aharon Shulov of the Hebrew University and Aviv Marx founded SIS that currently produces an antiserum for yellow scorpion stings that is used in many hospitals.
The idea that snake venom might be useful in treating arthritis occurred to Primor in the early 80s when Shulov told him that Russian immigrants used a healing salve supposedly made of viper venom to treat body aches and pains.
Following this lead, Primor set his sights on the Palestinian viper – a common snake in Israel – and extracted its venom. He found that the venom contained about 1,000 molecules of which only four or five are poisonous. He then isolated an analgesic molecule and made a synthetic copy called VeP-3.
"About 99 percent of the venom is non-toxic, which leaves us with a great source of possible drug components," said the 62-year-old snake specialist and biochemist.
With this discovery, Primor hopes to create a snake venom pain-reliving cream that will hit drugstores in the near future. He intends to use the same technique used by pharmaceutical company Merck & Company in mimicking the beneficial effects of the deadly venom without its toxic effects.
“Snake venom has already led to several new drugs used by Britons. Take for example, Aggrastat, a 'super aspirin' introduced by Merck to prevent blood clots and to help prevent heart attacks in people hospitalized with severe chest pain. The drug came about through the knowledge that some victims of snakebites bleed to death because the venom contains proteins that prevent blood clotting,” said BICOM.
“Researchers from Temple University in Philadelphia and Merck isolated molecules from actual viper venom, then Merck built a synthetic molecule to mimic the viper's anti-clotting effect but without the toxins. Through a similar process, SIS is attempting to create an arthritic pain reliever,” BICOM added.
As Primor and his colleagues continue their research on snake venom, don’t make the mistake of seeking snakes and hoping their bite will spare you from the misery of arthritis. You might kill yourself in the process. A better way is to use a non-prescription product like Flexcerin that helps lubricate and repair diseased joints without the nasty side effects of other prescription painkillers. For details, check out http://www.flexcerin.com.