If someone were to ask you to think of a life-saving substance, snake venom is probably low on the list—especially if you’ve read our recent article about snakes in India—but scientists from the Universities of Manitoba, Shantou, and Western Ontario have discovered how this unlikely ingredient can actually save someone’s life rather than take it.
The team produced a snake-venom-based “super glue” that can stop bleeding within seconds once activated with light. Quickly preventing bleeding is extremely important when dealing with a traumatic injury or surgery— even a few seconds can make a difference, so this glue can undoubtedly turn a fatal situation around.
The active ingredient in the glue is batroxobin (also known as reptilase), a blood-clotting enzyme from the venom of lancehead snakes. To make the surgical glue, the scientists combined batroxobin with modified gelatin. The result is a substance that seals up quickly when exposed to bright light (even a smartphone flashlight would do the trick) and is “blood-resistant,” so it won’t be easily worn away by the flow.
So far, the super glue has been tested on lab rats with deep skin cuts, liver injuries, and ruptured aortas, all of which were sealed within 45 seconds, reducing blood loss by an impressive 78 percent.
The team hopes that in the future, once the substance is refined, their snake venom super glue will help first responders, soldiers on the battlefield, and doctors during surgery.
Source study: Science Advances—Snake extract-laden hemostatic bioadhesive gel cross-linked by visible light.