Looks scary, eh? It is good thing that we are conditioned to fear the pit viper – after acknowledging your presence by use a pair of heat-sensing pit organs located between the eye and the nostril, the pit viper strikes. Clinical manifestations include pain, weakness, dizziness and nausea. The most severe effect, however, is the rapid onset of extreme hypotension. Blood pressure continues to drop and eventually results in death.
I tend to see the glass half-full and so was very pleasantly surprised to learn that snake venom was used to develop one of the most prescribed classes of drugs today – the ACE inhibitors – used primarily for the treatment of hypertension. The history of the research and development conveniently makes for a good story.
Let us think of the co-evolution we see in nature between predator and prey in the world of lynxes and rabbits: the rabbits that run faster will survive and will be selected for; as the rabbit gets faster, the faster lynxes will be selected for… so on and so forth. Continue reading