The Key to Treating Rare Kidney Disease is… Snake Venom?

Long have these cold-blooded, no-limbed reptiles bore a bad reputation; from the Bible to Disney to Indiana Jones.

But are things about to change?

According to a new French study from, the venom of the green mamba snake showed evidence of efficacy in treating a rare disorder called polycystic kidney disease (PKD).

Polycystic kidney disease is a rare, inherited disorder in which clusters of cysts develop within the kidneys and can lead to kidney and liver damage. While the condition varies in severity, it can be lethal in babies. No cure currently exists.

Cue the snakes!

In the study, conducted on mice (oh the irony!), researchers extracted one compound from the venom, called mambaquaretin-1 and then administered to six mice with PKD every day for 99 days. While the venom (although the snake bite method might be the cause) may cause cause dizziness, nausea, irregular heartbeat, and sometimes even death – the mice should no evidence of “side effects” or adverse effects.

After the 99 days, researchers measured kidney function in all of the mice, finding that the mice who were administered the venom compound had better kidney function; specifically, the number of cysts was reduced by one-third, confirming the conclusion that the venom was effective by targeting the action of a receptor called the type-2 vasopressin receptor, which is involved in PKD.

So is the future of kidney disease treatment development snake venom?!

Maybe that’s a stretch – for now.

It is not entirely clear what the effect on humans would be, and researches to date haven’t tested the green mamba venom on any condition (kidney or otherwise) – but the results of this study further shows that animal venom indeed are a source of molecules that can target certain receptors in the body that are involved in human health.

Looks like snakes might be taking back the unflattering stereotype!

Click here to read the entire article about the study.


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