[QODLink]
The Cure

Venom Hunters

The hunt is on to collect toxic venoms that could lead to the development of life-saving drugs.

Last Modified: 21 Aug 2013 07:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

Most of us think of poisonous spiders, snakes, and jellyfish as creatures to avoid. Their highly evolved venoms can target specific cells and stop hearts or paralyse limbs.

But scientists are now beginning to understand how useful these abilities could be for medicine – if they are understood and properly deployed.

Dr Pierre Escoubas is one of the experts leading a project called VENOMICS, which aims to build a database of all the venoms in the world, in the hope of developing new, targetted treatments for illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

By capturing animals and ‘milking’ them for their poison, he and his team are slowly building a map of this untapped resource.

While scientists have identified around 4,000 different venom molecules so far, Dr Escoubas estimates there could be as many as 40 million, all with potentially unique properties.

Reporter Dr Joff Lacey joins the VENOMICS team in the south of France, where he hunts for deadly scorpions and makes a hair-raising visit to the project’s tarantula farm.

 

Watch The Cure on Tuesday: 2230; Wednesday: 0930; Thursday: 0330; Friday: 1630; Saturday: 2230; Sunday: 0930; Monday: 0330; Tuesday: 1630 GMT. 

Join the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter

245

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Growing poverty is strengthening a trend among UK Muslims to fund charitable work closer to home.
A groundbreaking study from Johns Hopkins University shows that for big segments of the US population it is.
Critics claim a vaguely worded secrecy law gives the Japanese government sweeping powers.
A new book looks at Himalayan nation's decades of political change and difficult transition from monarchy to democracy.
The Church of Christ built a $200m megachurch while analysts say members vote in a block.
join our mailing list