A Venomous Lifesaver

Scientists from Rice University have found that nanofiber hydrogel infused with snake venom might just be the most efficient material to quickly stop bleeding. The material uses a venom produced by two species of South American pit viper called batroxobin, and it can be can be injected as a liquid. The liquid turns into a gel that can quickly conform to the wound it’s applied to. This keeps the wound closed and promotes clotting within a few seconds. Rice University chemist Jeffrey Hartgerink said, “It’s interesting that you can take something so deadly and turn it into something that has the potential to save lives.”

Curing with Poison

Batroxobin has been used in therapies before. It’s been used to treat thrombosis and a topical hemostat as a method to remove excess fibrin proteins from the blood. The venom is also a diagnostic tool used to determine blood-clotting time when using an anti-coagulant drug called heparin. Hartgerink explains, “There’s a lot of different things that can trigger blood coagulation, but when you’re on heparin, most of them don’t work, or they work slowly or poorly. That obviously causes problems if you’re bleeding.”

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