Snake venom can close wounds in seconds

A team of researchers has developed a "super glue" from snake venom that is more biodegradable than synthetic plasters and seals wounds in 45 seconds.

Snake venom may also be beneficial to your health. A team of researchers at Western University has managed to derive a "super glue" from the harmful substance of this species of reptiles that has a rapid action in closing wounds: in less than a minute you stop bleeding. The bioadhesive, completely natural, is much more biocompatible and environmentally friendly than synthetic patches whose degradation can be potentially toxic.

The bioadhesive made with the "super glue" of snake venom

Natural patches are more difficult to manipulate than synthetic ones. To address this issue, researchers have created a bioadhesive gel made from the venom of the common vipera lanceolata, one of the most venomous snakes in South America. This animal kills prey by injecting them with its venom, which destroys their vascular systems, causing a process called consumption coagulopathy. This is excessive clotting that causes the body to exhaust its ability to form clots leading to bleeding.

The researchers extracted the reptilase molecule responsible for blood clotting and, based on past studies, added a methacrylate gelatin to turn the substance into a fast-acting tissue adhesive. "During trauma, injury and emergency bleeding, this 'super glue' can be applied simply by squeezing the tube and shining a light on it, like a laser pointer, for a few seconds," explained one of the study's authors, Kibret Mequanint, a bioengineer at Western University.

By rapidly converting fibrinogen into the clot-forming fibrin, reptilase would be able to seal wounds in just 45 seconds. The researchers tested the glue on major bleeding wounds in rats. The bioadhesive required no additional stitching. The team anticipates that this substance could be used to save lives, such as in severe trauma from car accidents. The applicator, Mequanint said, also fits in first aid kits.

In any case, the treatment has yet to undergo clinical trials, but the results already look very positive. Research on animal substances is varied and often related precisely to the biodegradability of these natural products. If the "super glue" of snake venom was made to find an alternative to synthetic patches that are not very eco-friendly, another study has produced a material similar to spider silk that could replace disposable plastic.

Stefania Bernardini