UA testing new snakebite treatment

Snakebite treatment delays venom damage

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A snake can bite you with lightning speed. Damage from the venom starts happening almost as fast.

Now, University of Arizona researchers are working on a treatment you might be able to carry with you to delay damage and buy time until you can get hospital treatment.

In Arizona sooner or later you will run into a rattlesnake and risk a dangerous bite to you or your pets.

You don't even have to be much of a hiker to run into trouble with snakes.  You could be cleaning up the landscaping in your yard.  You reach under the wrong bush, you get bitten and then the race is on to get to treatment.
      
Many types of snake venom attack your blood.  They may make it clot, or keep it from clotting.
      
At the University of Arizona Medical School, Doctor Vance Nielsen says he's found a way to disrupt the chemistry of how the venom works long enough to hold off damage while you get to a hospital for anti-venin treatment.
      
He says the key is delivering a dose of carbon monoxide where the venom has collected near the bite.

"Our hope is to go ahead and basically put the enzymes to sleep and then by the time you get someplace to get anti-venin as they come out the anti-venin picks them off."
       
Doctor Nielsen hopes to package the drug in a simple, inexpensive delivery system anyone could carry where they might suffer a snakebite. It might become standard for soldiers who encounter a wide range of dangerous snakes all over the world.

“They're having to deal with it more not just in the Afghan theaters but now as they look towards the Pacific and other places.  It's something a soldier could carry with him."
      
He says the carbon monoxide treatment also keeps pets alive while they're rushed into treatment.  
       
But the treatment needs more tests before it's ready for the public.  Doctor Nielsen says that may happen in about five years.     

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