Deadly Mamba May Save Heart Patients

Ingredient in venom helps heart without hurting kidneys
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2009 5:07 AM CDT
A new drug created with ingredients from mamba venom has shown promising results in early trials.   (Shutter Stock)
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(Newser) – Scientists believe the deadly green mamba may hold the key to saving many heart failure patients. A hormone found in the African tree snake's venom helps widen blood vessels to deliver its poison faster, reducing high blood pressure in the process. The hormone also appears to boost kidney function, researchers say, unlike other treatments which place excessive strain on the kidneys and often cause heart patients to be re-admitted with kidney failure.

The lead researcher in the current study believes not enough attention has been paid to the kidneys in the fight against heart failure. "The kidney may play an equal role to the heart," he said. Much research remains to be done, but an experimental drug based on the venom is now being tested in clinical trials and could lead to treatments that will significantly cut the million hospitalizations from heart failure in the US every year, researchers tell the Wall Street Journal.
(Read more snake venom stories.)