How snake venom is used to treat cancer

Since December 2000, scientists have been investigating the use of snake venom in the treatment of cancer . A protein, Contortrostatin, was isolated from the head of the southern cobra. Contortrostatin works in two ways to prevent the spread of cancer in mice: it inhibits cancer cells from getting hooked into other cells, which is how cancer spreads, and at the same time, Contortrostatin prevents the formation of new blood vessels, which is what feeds cancer tumors. While snake venom proteins are already used as drugs for heart disease and stroke, cancer researchers have joined the battle, trying to discover new treatments for cancer.

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The poisons of the 650 poisonous snakes on the planet were studied. As snake venom is composed of complexes of various proteins and enzymes, it may take a while to discover what might have potential for medicinal uses. Both neurotoxins (attacks the nervous system) and hemotoxins (attacks the circulatory system) have potential uses in medicine.


Poisonous snakes were captured and their poison was obtained. Fortunately, there are many people from snake buyers to doctorate researchers who hunt snakes. They were studied in the laboratory in attempts to isolate beneficial proteins for the treatment of diseases.


Isolate the proteins that produce the desired effect in heart disease and cancer treatments. Finding proteins that could have a specific effect on a specific disease can take years of study.


Once the protein is isolated, a synthetic version of the viper venom must be tested in laboratory animals. Now, the protein produced by the engineered bacteria can provide the drug for medical research.


Test the protein synthesized in animals as laboratory mice. Clinical studies of animals are an important step in the development of drugs. The use of Contortrostatin is being tested on animals. It was discovered that Contortrostatin prevents the spread of cancer to the lungs of mice by 90%.

  • Do not try any of this at home. The capture of poisonous snakes requires diligent training, and an error could endanger your life.
  • This article is only informative of the process of analysis that was followed to detect how snake venom can help cancer patients