Sunday, August 5, 2007

Snake Venom-Medicinal value

Snake Venom is a complicated substance. It was once believed that snakes have venom that is either hemotoxic or neurotoxic. It is now known that venom is not this simple. Most snake venom is composed of many types of compounds, primarily proteins and enzymes that effect the body in different ways. Thus, even a snake typically known as having only hemotoxic venom, most likely has some neurotoxic compounds as well.

Some common compounds found in snake venom include the list below:
1) Hyaluronidases-Catalyze reactions that break mucopolysaccharide links in connective tissues, thereby enhancing diffusion of venom-Several genera
2) Proteolytic enzymes-Catalyze the breakdown of structural components of tissues-All venomous species.
3) Phospholipases-Catalyze reactions that harm musculature and nerves-Almost all venomous species.
4) Proteases-Catalyze reactions that disrupt protein peptide bonds in tissues, causing blood vessel wall damage and hemorrhaging and muscle-fiber deterioration-Vipers and Pitvipers.
5) Thrombinlike enzymes-Inhibit blood clotting-Vipers, pitvipers, and a few rare elapids.
6) Peptide bradykinin potentiators-Enhancement of one of the body's natural responses to injury by dilating and increasing permeability of blood vessels, stimulates pain receptors and contracts some smooth muscles. This allows the venom to diffuse quickly into the bloodstream, increases bleeding and inhibits the ability to flee-Bothrops and Crotalus genera.
7) Polypeptide toxins-Disrupts nerve-impulse transmission, causing heart or respiratory failure-Mambas, Vipera, Crotalus, Bungarus, Naja, Laticaua, Hydrophis all with different types of toxin.
8) Nerve growth factor-Stimulates the growth of nerve cells-Agkistrodon, Crotalus.

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