Nav: Home

Venom becomes more potent as brown snakes age

May 16, 2017

The "blood nuking" capabilities of adult brown snake venom only come about after an amazing transformation.

New research led by University of Queensland scientist Associate Professor Bryan Fry has shown the venom of young brown snakes attacks the nervous system, while the venom of older snakes has dangerous effects on the circulatory system.

"This is because young brown snakes specialise in lizards, then specialise in mammals as adults," Dr Fry said.

"Young brown snakes may produce clinical symptoms like that of a death adder, as they seek out and paralyse sleeping lizards.

"Once older, their venom contains toxins that cause devastating interference with blood clotting, causing rodent prey to become immobilised by stroke.

"Although the venom is diluted in the much larger blood volume of a human and do not cause stroke, bite victims can still die from internal bleeding."

Dr Fry, of the UQ School of Biological Sciences' Venom Evolution Laboratory said brown snakes were highly venomous and were found in mainland Australia, with the eastern brown snakes also found in New Guinea.

"The venom's action upon the blood was shown to be much more complex than previously known," he said.

"It was previously known that brown snakes are like taipans in converting a protein called prothrombin into thrombin, which in turn forms the blood clot.

"However, the speed of action could not be accounted for based on this action alone.

"Our team discovered brown snakes are potent in activating Factor VII, another blood clotting enzyme, which is the missing (dark matter) element of brown snake envenomations.

"The feedback loop created by this enzyme would become a venomous vortex and dramatically accelerate the effects upon the blood."

Dr Fry said the research was an excellent example of the value of studying basic evolution, where results could have immediate implications for human health, and also contribute to the philosophy of science.

This work was published in the journal Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology.
-end-


University of Queensland

Related Dark Matter Articles:

Physicists have found a way to 'hear' dark matter
Physicists at Stockholm University and the Max Planck Institute for Physics have turned to plasmas in a proposal that could revolutionise the search for the elusive dark matter.
Cesium vapor aids in the search for dark matter
Physicists at Mainz University manage to further narrow down range of the search for dark matter
New hunt for dark matter
Dark matter is only known by its effect on massive astronomical bodies, but has yet to be directly observed or even identified.
Tracking down dark matter
Over time, scientists have developed different theories to explain exactly what the mysterious dark matter might be made of.
A new candidate for dark matter and a way to detect it
Two theoretical physicists at UC Davis have a new candidate for dark matter and a possible way to detect it.
More Dark Matter News and Dark Matter Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...