Unfortunately for all the comic lovers out there, we are not talking about the favorite anti-hero called Venom, one of the more popular antagonists in the Spider-man universe. No, we are talking about real-life snake venom produced in a lab.
This is a great development as this practice might eventually put snake farms out of commission. A research team from the Netherlands has been able to reproduce glands from various snake species successfully.
The venom extracted in this way is useful for further research and development of drugs and antidotes for snake bites. It is estimated that around 2.5 million people get bitten by a snake each year. As many as 138,000 of them succumb to the effects of the bite and die. Another 400,000 lose a limb or suffer other disabilities.
Antivenom is manufactured from venom that comes from snakes raised on snake farms. The toxin is then injected into animals that are capable of creating antibodies. Those antibodies then get purified, and they can then be used to help cure a person that has been bitten. The only issue is that the antibodies need to be specific to the species of snake whose bite it is.
This is where the organoids come in. It is much easier to grow glands of snakes and then use them to create the antivenom than to handle live snakes raised on snake farms. The first snake used in this study is the Cape coral snake. Researchers took stem cells from unhatched snakes and were able to grow several types of organoids. Glands from seven species were successfully recreated.
The next steps in the study are to harvest venom from these organoids. The scientists hope that this venom will be more potent than the venom received from milking snakes.