Venomous snakes, while usually beautiful, aren’t really the kind of animals that come to mind when we think of “animals helping people.” But researchers are discovering that proteins in snake venom could be extremely effective as cancer treatments!

To put it as simply as possible, cancer cells are problematic because they spread through the bloodstream, attach to new sites in the body, and signal new blood vessels to grow and supply them with nutrients.

Snake venom, on the other hand, is problematic because it prevents clotting and disrupts the nervous system. But it turns out that in addition to preventing clotting (by preventing platelets from attaching together), copperhead venom proteins also prevent cancer cells from attaching to other cells. AND- research showed that the venom also prevented cancer cells from signaling new blood vessel growth! In mouse studies, these proteins were very successful in preventing the spread of cancer cells.

The¬†next step will be testing this protein compound on women with breast cancer. And don’t think it stops there- read more about the potential for snake venom to treat stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s patients. Rattlesnakes, pit vipers, mambas- the amazing research taking place is yet another reason to be in awe of these beautiful animals!

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