Snake venom differs with age, location

July 14th, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington , July 14 (ANI): Its not just humans who have different traits, accents and habits in different geographical regions. Snakes belonging to different geographical regions pack different venom, even if they belong to the same species, reveals a new study.

The study highlights the fact that while creating antivenoms, the drugs created to combat snake bites in humans, the scientists should take these chemical differences into account.

Although it is known that venom of snakes of the same species can vary geographically, which may result in different symptoms in snakebite victims, still not much research has been done on the chemical differences in venom within any given species.

In the new study, the researchers compared the protein chemistry of the deadly lancehead pitviper (Bothrops asper) from two geographically isolated populations from the Caribbean and Pacific regions of Costa Rica .

They even examined venom from adult and newborn snakes and “found major differences in the venoms collected from the two regions.

Distinct differences were also found in proteins of venom collected from newborns and adult snakes, “indicating that the requirement for the venom to immobilize prey and initiate digestion may change with the size (age) of the snake, Live Science quoted the authors, as saying.

While snake-bite antivenoms (sometimes called antivenins) turn out to quite expensive, they are available only at select hospitals, and don”t always work.

The authors concluded that the study suggests that venom should be mixed with geographical and age distribution of the snakes in mind when creating antivenin.

The study is published in the August issue of the Journal of Proteome Research. (ANI)

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