Bit by a Snake? Use This Cream

New product may slow envenomation

Jun 27, 2011
Outside Magazine

Australian researchers have found an unlikely new field treatment for snakebite: ointment used to treat angina. A paper published today in the journal Nature Medicine suggests that snakebite victims may extend their chance of survival by one-and-a-half-times with an ointment containing nitroglycerin. The scientists found that a compound released by nitroglycerin inhibits the smooth muscle contractions that propel venom through the lymphatic system, potentially cutting the speed of envenomation by a factor of three. Tests in rodents found that this translated to a 50 percent boost in survival times. In the study, researchers from University of Newcastle and two Australian hospitals injected fifteen human volunteers with a non-toxic, venom-like substance, then traced it as it moved through their bodies. They found that slowing the lymphatic system significantly delayed the faux-venom's absorbtion into the body. Poisonous snakes kill as many as 100,000 people each year, but scientists say that the treatment needs further evaluation before it can be put into practice.

Read more at ABC Science

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