Viper Venom: A Cure to Covid? A Brazilian Study Suggests it might be.

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Researchers in Brazil discover the Covid inhibiting properties of Jararacussu Pit Viper’s venom. Preliminary tests on monkeys showed promising results.

Jararacussu, a Brazilian pit viper’s venom, might just be the solution to the pandemic plaguing the world for the last year.

Researchers from the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil found that a venom component inhibits the virus’s growth.

The study published in the science journal ‘Molecules’ was conducted on Monkeys. The research notes that the molecule was able to cut down on the growth of coronavirus in monkeys by 75%.

For a virus that has hitherto remained untreatable, a possible cure could mean a return to normalcy.

This path-breaking research emerged from Brazil on the day when the country’s caseload surged to 20,777,867 with more than 500,000 fatalities.

How does the ‘cure’ work?

The molecule extracted from Jararacussu’s venom is a Peptide. It’s a chain of amino acids that can connect to the Coronavirus enzyme ‘PLPro’.

PLPro is a crucial protein required by the virus to multiply within the infected body. The peptide molecule specifically attacks the enzyme without causing harm to other cells.

The enzyme’s growth inhibited by the venom molecule and reduced Covid-19’s intensity in the infected body.

While a virus cannot be battled with drugs, stopping its growth gives the body better odds at fighting the virus.

What does this mean for the Jararacussu population?

Bothrops Jararacussu, commonly known in English as ‘Jararacussu’, is a highly venomous snake. It is a species of Pit Viper endemic to South America. It can grow up to 7ft 2in and is known for its aggressive behavior.

If its venom does work as a cure for Covid, the labs would need large quantities of the snake venom to mass-produce the drugs.

It could endanger the snake species. Additionally, the people entrusted to capture and extract the toxin would be in danger of being attacked by the snakes.

However, Jararacussu’s peptide molecules were already being researched for their anti-bacterial properties.

Over time, scientists have derived a way to manufacture the peptide molecule in a laboratory without capturing and extracting venom from the snake.

Rafael Guido, a researcher involved in the study at the University of Sao Paolo, spoke about the same, “Already known for its anti-bacterial qualities, the peptide can be synthesized in the laboratory.”

He added that scientists are afraid of an increase in Jararacussu hunting in Brazil, “thinking it will save the world or themselves and their family.

That’s not the case. The discovered component is just a fraction from inside the venom. It is not the venom itself that will cure coronavirus at this time.”

What comes next in research?

The next course of action has to be an evaluation of the efficiency of a molecule. Tests will be conducted by injecting different doses of the molecule.

The dosage of the molecule would need to balance out the growth of the virus enzyme.

Further testing will make clear whether the venom molecule could prevent the virus from affecting the cells. If that becomes a reality, the molecule could be an effective vaccine.

Testing on human cells is a part of the research process. However, it is not over the horizon right now. Researchers are yet to provide a concrete timeline for the testing.

This odd but hopeful study has come when the world has started its attempt at normalcy.

With vaccine efficiencies under question and the opening up of educational institutes, the world is in dire need of some good news. This study might just be the solution that we have long-awaited.

Kavya Pragallapati
Kavya Pragallapati
An avid reader with a knack for researching niche issues and topics. Kavya is a writer focused on bringing unheard voices to the light. She believes there are multiple perspectives to everything and is not afraid to step back and reevaluate the larger picture.

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