This Southeast Asian pit viper might be a lifesaver.
But scientists have discovered that venom from one particular kind of viper may actually play a role in helping your heart, according to new research published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
In the study, researchers from Taiwan isolated a specific protein from the venom of the Wagler’s pit viper called trowaglerix.
Their previous experiments showed that this particular protein stimulates the development of blood clots by messing with a specific protein, GPVI, found on the surface of your blood cells.
So they used the structure of the snake venom protein to design a molecule that blocks GPVI.
The researchers designed a drug that blocks clotting, but with the addition of the snake venom molecule, also thwarts bleeding afterward.
That’s important, because excessive bleeding after minor injury is a common, dangerous side effect of current anti-clotting drugs, which are used to help prevent heart attack and stroke in people with heart disease. (If you have this blood type, you’re more likely to have a heart attack, too.)
When the researchers tested the new drug in mice, their blood was slower to clot than mice who didn’t receive the drug. But they didn’t bleed any longer, either.
The hope is that this drug can be fine-tuned to create a safer class of anti-clotting drugs that don’t come with the bleeding risks, the researchers said in a press release.
Still, there’s a lot of work to be done before the drug makes its way to your pharmacy’s shelves.
Currently, it was only tested on mice, so human trials are needed first to make sure it works the same way and is safe.
Another limitation? The drug doesn’t last long enough in the body, so researchers need to find a way to tweak its formulation or delivery to extend it.