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Venom's potential for fighting disease

Posted at 6:52 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 21:55:07-04
Researchers at the U of A may have the key to potential disease fighting medicine. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at Banner UMC is working to collect venom from local reptiles. It is then sent off to labs who can use that venom to develop medicine in the future.

While many people are afraid of snakes, Dan Massey goes after them. 
"My wife and I actually had 20 some odd cages set up and we kept all the snakes in our home," said Massey.

During his residency for pharmacy school, he went out into the desert looking for snakes and scorpions to collect their venom.
"We were extracting venom from these rattlesnakes in the wild, we brought them home and we actually collected venom every three weeks until we had enough venom and released the snakes back into the wild."
Now, he volunteers at Banner's Poison Control Center. Massey uses what he learned to collect more venom that could be developed into medicine in the future. 
"Does one of them cause lower blood pressure? Maybe. That's future for a blood pressure medication. Does one of them help with diabetes? Well, maybe that's a diabetes medication. That of course is years down the line, but the first step is to get these venom samples out there and actually figure out what components are made out of the venom."
And the potential for future medicine is endless. 
"What the Arizona Poison Center allows is to actually be able to collect venom from these snakes, look at the protein make up of that, and the possibility of labs in the future building on our research is pretty cool."