One of the largest snakes in Brazil, the jararacussu pit viper, could become a potential weapon in the fight against Covid-19 after Brazilian scientists have discovered that its venom can be used as a drug to combat the coronavirus at an early stage, Reuters reported.
The results of the study published in the scientific journal Molecules show that a molecule of jararacussu pit viper’s venom can inhibit the coronavirus’ ability to multiply by 75% in monkey cells without hurting other cells.
The author of the study, University of São Paulo professor Rafael Guido, pointed they were able to show the ability of this snake venom’s molecule to inhibit a very important protein from the coronavirus by connecting to the PLPro enzyme of the virus which is vital to its reproduction.
The study will now focus on evaluation of the efficiency of different doses of the molecule- a peptide, or chain of amino acids- to establish if it can prevent the virus from entering cells and the scientist also hope to test the substance in human cells, but gave no timeline.
Emphasizing that it’s not the venom itself that will cure the Covid-19, herpetologist Giuseppe Puorto underlined the concerns sparked by the discovery that people would travel around the country to hunt the jararacussu, thinking they’ll save the world or will be cured by the viper’s venom.
But Guido pointed that jararacussu venom’s peptide molecule that is already known for its antibacterial qualities can be synthesized in the laboratory so the capture or the raising of the snakes would be unnecessary.