Researchers of a new study have used snake venom to make a hydrogel named SB50 to stop bleeding efficiently. It has been shown to work well even with anti-coagulant medications. The paper is published in ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering.
Scientists from Rice University, US, have transformed the way the world will view snake venom: they used a lethal substance to make a life-saving ‘gel’.
“It’s interesting that you can take something so deadly and turn it into something that has the potential to save lives,” says one of the team, chemist Jeffrey Hartgerink.
SB50 is a hydrogel containing a form of venom, batroxobin, which is synthesised in two species of pit viper from South America. The batroxobin used in the experiments was made from genetically modified and purified bacteria, and not taken directly from snakes.
Batroxobin is known for its coagulant properties. When it was mixed with the hydrogel made of synthetic nanofibres, a more efficient coagulant was produced. When the mixture is injected as a liquid onto a wound, it thickens into a gel and promotes clotting within 6 seconds – the fast action of the hydrogel could help save lives, for instance, in emergency surgery. This would be even more beneficial for those taking blood-thinning medications like heparin taken to prevent blood clots within blood vessels; specially because the hydrogel is not impeded by heparin.
“From a clinical perspective, that’s far and away the most important issue here,” said Hartgerink. “There’s a lot of different things that can trigger blood coagulation, but when you’re on heparin, most of them don’t work, or they work slowly or poorly. That obviously causes problems if you’re bleeding.”
“This is important because surgical bleeding in patients taking heparin can be a serious problem,” said Hartgerink. “The use of batroxobin allows us to get around this problem because it can immediately start the clotting process, regardless of whether heparin is there or not.”