Scientists have made superglue using venom from lancehead snakes which are one of the most poisonous snakes found in South America. The scientists from Western University in Canada explained that the venom contains a blood-clotting enzyme called batrixobin or reptilase, which acts as an adhesive by sticking to body tissue. The enzyme can stop bleeding in 45 seconds and thus save lives. Physicians can also use it to close wounds without sutures.
According to Kibret Mequanint, a co-author of the study and engineering professor at Western University, the superglue is used by applying it to a wound and shining a light over it. Light from a laser pointer or the flashlight from your phone could work well.
How scientists made the adhesive
This project is just the latest for Mequanint, who has been making medical devices made from biomaterials for the last twenty years.
In collaboration with other scientists, Mequanint isolated the blood-clotting enzyme found in the snake’s venom. They then made the glue and added a form of modified gelatine. The resulting compound was put in tubes to enable fast and easy application in a severe injury. Scientists have made the tubes small enough to fit in first aid kits for easy use and access.
Mequanint hopes this new adhesive could prevent death due to excessive bleeding. He says that healthcare workers could use it in car accidents and on the battlefield to save lives.
The superglue was tested on models for ruptured aorta, injured livers and other injuries that could cause severe bleeding. Scientists also tried it on a severed rat tail. The bleeding stopped in 34 seconds, and the researchers noted that blood loss went down by 78%.
Is the snake venom superglue better than fibrin?
For some time now, fibrin glue has been the preferred adhesive used by doctors to stop bleeding. However, research has shown that the snake venom-derived glue has ten times the adhesive strength of fibrin glue. In addition to that, it can stop bleeding in only 45 seconds, while fibrin glue stops bleeding in 90 seconds. Because of this, scientists predict it will save even more lives.