Friday, February 1, 2019

Advanced Medical Solutions Group plc: Acquisition of Sealantis

Winsford, UK, 31 January 2019: Advanced Medical Solutions Group plc (AIM: AMS), the surgical and advanced wound care specialist company, today announces it has acquired Sealantis Limited (“Sealantis”), a developer of an alginate-based tissue adhesive technology platform, for $US 25m (approximately £19m) in cash with royalties due until December 2027 on sales of any of its products that are currently in development.

Overview of Sealantis
Sealantis is an Israeli-based medical device company with a patent-protected alga-mimetic sealants technology platform with a wide range of potential surgical indications under development. Its two most advanced surgical sealant products are Seal-G, an open surgery device already CE marked for reinforcement of the staple / suture line to minimise anastomotic leaks following gastrointestinal surgery, and Seal-G MIST (Minimally Invasive Spray Technology) the equivalent laparoscopic device for the same indication but performed through keyhole surgery.

For the year ended 31 December 2017, Sealantis reported gross assets of approximately £0.5m
(ILS 2.1m) and a net loss of approximately £1.5m (ILS 6.6m).   

Acquisition benefits
As well as a world class extension of our longer-term product development capability, strategically, the acquisition provides AMS with a technology platform and delivery systems that have significant potential across a range of applications in the high-margin internal surgery market which includes the $1 billion internal sealant market. These include the existing CE marked product to reinforce and protect gastrointestinal anastomoses, of which there are more than 6 million procedures performed annually worldwide1, with additional significant potential in Neuro, Orthopaedic, and Cardiovascular surgery indications.

Being alginate based, the technology and products have significant competitive advantages over existing market leading products in this space. Importantly, the products do not need refrigerated transport or storage, can be delivered by spreading or spraying, do not require advanced preparation and do not contain proteins so carry lower risk of infection or adverse reaction.

The Sealantis technology platform has multiple synergies with AMS, most notably within the sales, marketing, regulatory and operational areas, and the acquisition significantly strengthens the Company’s product portfolio for internal sealants and fixation devices, sitting alongside AMS’s LiquiBandFix8® laparoscopic and LiquiBandFix8® open fixation devices. The addition of the Sealantis products and indications will open up much larger parts of the surgery market for AMS to exploit commercially and significant sales synergies are anticipated once commercialisation commences from H1 2021.

AMS plans to rapidly maximise the value of the investment by continuing to invest in the existing Sealantis innovation centre and accelerate the commercialisation of the laparoscopic and open variants of Seal-G by running clinical trials for anastomotic leak prevention as well as obtaining approval for new indications. The Company expects to make a total investment of approximately £8m in R&D, regulatory and clinical costs which will be fairly evenly spread over the next three years, depending on clinical trial progress. Seal G will initially be targeted within Europe using AMS’s existing regulatory expertise and the Group’s extensive commercial footprint.

Sealantis operates a state-of-the-art innovation and manufacturing facility, which includes an ISO class 6 clean room, at the world-renowned Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, Israel. AMS intends to retain Sealantis’ team of 12 R&D staff, who will become a key part of AMS’s surgical R&D capability.

Terms of the transaction
AMS is acquiring Sealantis for an initial consideration of $US 25m (approximately £19m) in cash, to be funded from existing cash resources, which were £71m at 30 June 2018. In addition, AMS will pay royalties, in-line with market rates, on future sales of existing products in development until the end of 2027.

Until the commencement of product sales, which are expected in H1 2021, the acquisition is expected to be earnings dilutive due to the aforementioned investment in R&D, regulatory costs, and clinical studies.

Commenting on the acquisition, Chris Meredith, CEO of AMS, said: “This acquisition is in line with our strategy to acquire technologies that are complementary to our surgical portfolio as well as allowing us to leverage our global routes to market. The acquisition enhances our access to a significant and high-margin market in internal surgery, which includes areas of unmet need for effective and absorbable internal sealants, a market estimated at $1 billion. We are particularly excited to welcome Sealantis’ innovation team of R&D experts to AMS and look forward to working alongside them to develop the technology in a wide range of potential applications and indications. As we work towards the commercialisation of Seal-G Surgical Sealant over the next 18 months, we expect to maximise the full value of the platform and this innovative technology. AMS continues to actively monitor and evaluate other acquisition opportunities to capitalise on its strong financial and strategic position.”

Sunday, September 23, 2018

FDA permits marketing of new endoscopic device for treating gastrointestinal bleeding

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration permitted marketing of Hemospray, a new device used to help control certain types of bleeding in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

“The device provides an additional, non-surgical option for treating upper and lower GI bleeding in certain patients, and may help reduce the risk of death from a GI bleed for many patients,” said Binita Ashar, M.D., director, division of surgical devices, in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

GI bleeding can occur in the upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach or small intestine) or the lower GI tract (colon and rectum). Causes of GI bleeding include gastric ulcers, artery or vein (arteriovenous) malformations, diverticulosis, cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Older patients are at a higher risk of death from severe GI bleeding.  

The Hemospray device is intended to treat most types of upper or lower GI bleeding. The device is an aerosolized spray that delivers a mineral blend to the bleeding site. The device is applied during an endoscopic procedure and can cover large areas such as large ulcers or tumors. The device is not intended for use in patients with variceal bleeding, which is bleeding that comes from enlarged veins that develop in certain medical conditions like alcoholic liver disease.

The FDA reviewed data from clinical studies consisting of 228 patients with upper and lower GI bleeding, supplemented with real world evidence from medical literature reports including an additional 522 patients. The Hemospray device stopped GI bleeding in 95 percent of patients within five minutes of device usage. Re-bleeding, usually within 72 hours, but up to 30 days following device usage, was observed in 20 percent of these patients. One serious side effect, bowel perforation, was observed in approximately 1 percent of patients. Hemospray is contraindicated in patients who have a gastrointestinal fistula or are at high risk for experiencing a gastrointestinal perforation.
The FDA permitted marketing of the Hemospray device to Wilson-Cook Medical Inc.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cohera Medical Inc.® Awarded Patent on its Biodegradable Sealant Technology

Cohera Medical, Inc., a leading innovator and developer of absorbable surgical adhesives and sealants, today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued the Company a notice of allowance on its patent application, titled “SILANE-CONTAINING MOISTURE-CURABLE TISSUE SEALANT”.

The patent relates to a novel 100% synthetic sealant with several potential surgical applications.  The sealant covered by the patent, Sylys® Surgical Sealant, is highly elastic, and has good bonding strength to internal tissues.  In addition, the sealant is easy to prepare and apply in the operating theatre and is biocompatible for internal human use.  The patent covers the unique chemistry of the sealant allowing for variations that allow for multiple products with varying elasticity and bonding properties, thereby enabling the development of products for multiple clinical applications. 

“The unique chemistry of this synthetic sealant is a breakthrough discovery in the field of medical sealants,” said Dottie Clower, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Cohera Medical and the patent’s primary inventor.  “The development of this technology has taken many years to perfect, and this patent is the culmination of a significant research effort by the company.” 

“We are excited to add this patent to our growing intellectual property portfolio, which solidifies our leadership position in internal surgical adhesives and sealants," said Patrick Daly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cohera Medical. “This patent protects the core of our sealant technology as well as the key features of our sealant products that make them commercially and clinically viable.”

Cohera Medical is currently developing Sylys Surgical Sealant intended to be used as an adjunct to standard closure techniques for the reinforcement and protection of anastomotic junctions in colectomy procedures.  Sylys is designed to help reduce anastomotic leakage by providing additional support to the anastomosis during the first few days of healing, when the development of leaks is most likely to occur. Sylys may also have similar leak prevention characteristics in pancreatic resections, lung, and brain applications where there is a need for elimination of often catastrophic leaks of fluid or air during or after surgery. The product is currently undergoing clinical trials in the U.S. for the colectomy indication.

The market for Sylys Surgical Sealant is significant, with more than one million procedures per year worldwide representing a multi-billion dollar opportunity. Due to the unmet clinical need, Sylys would represent a breakthrough in this market that will lead to improved patient outcomes as well as reduced patient management costs for healthcare providers.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Baxter acquires surgical products

Baxter International Inc., a global medical products company, said Monday that it will acquire two hemostat and sealant products from Mallinckrodt.

It will acquire Recothrom Thrombin topical, the first and only stand-alone recombinant thrombin, and Preveleak Surgical Sealant, which is used in vascular reconstruction.

"Uncontrolled intraoperative bleeding can lead to a wide variety of clinical and economic complications for patients and hospitals. As a leading provider of advanced hemostats and sealants, Deerfield-based Baxter is focused on continually identifying solutions to help meet surgeons' varying needs," said Wil Boren, president of Baxter's Advanced Surgery business. "We are excited about the addition of Recothrom to help surgeons address less severe intraoperative bleeding and Preveleak to complement Baxter's existing portfolio of sealants for cardiovascular and other surgical specialties."

Thrombin is a proven blood coagulation agent -- used on its own or in combination with other hemostats -- that has been estimated to be used in more than one million patients per year in the United States to help surgeons address intraoperative bleeding.

Recothrom is a thrombin-based product indicated as an aid to hemostasis whenever oozing blood and minor bleeding from capillaries and small venules is accessible and control of bleeding by standard surgical techniques is ineffective or impractical in adults and pediatric populations greater than or equal to one month of age. As the only topical hemostat from recombinant DNA origin approved in the United States and Canada, Recothrom can be used in pediatric and adult patients with or without antibodies to bovine-derived thrombin.

The acquisition also includes Preveleak, a surgical sealant designed to seal suture holes formed during surgical repair of the circulatory system and to reinforce sutured connections between blood vessels. Preveleak augments Baxter's portfolio of complementary hemostats, sealants and tissue products used in cardiovascular and other surgeries, offering surgeons additional clinically differentiated products to address patients' varying needs. Preveleak is approved in the United States and European Union.

Sales of the proposed acquired products totaled approximately $56 million in the twelve months preceding Sept. 29. Upon closing, the deal is expected to be modestly accretive to Baxter's 2018 adjusted earnings and increasingly accretive thereafter. Under the terms of the agreement, Baxter will acquire Recothrom and Preveleak for an upfront payment of approximately $153 million and potential contingent payments in the future.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018, subject to the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hemostasis Solution Controls Bleeding during Surgery

A novel handheld device delivers a powder based on collagen to help surgeons achieve hemostatic bleeding control during surgical procedures.

The Biom’Up (Saint-Priest, France) HemoBlast Bellows is a sterile delivery device that is preloaded with a dry, sterile powder made of highly purified porcine collagen, glucose, chondroitin sulfate, and thrombin. The hemostatic powder is applied to the source of the bleeding by squeezing the bellows. Once applied, the powdered collagen and glucose components start the coagulation process by absorbing blood, concentrating coagulation factors and platelets, and providing a surface for autologous coagulation to begin.

In addition to collagen, the thrombin component, collected from pooled human plasma (an ancillary blood derivative) is included in the powder to boost the effect of the hemostatic agent. The thrombin facilitates the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, which allows the blood to clot. The chondroitin sulfate powder component provides cohesion between the hemostatic wound and the surrounding tissue. Users do not need to thaw, mix, or heat the powder, which is absorbed by the body within four weeks.

“As the first active hemostatic powder, it will support surgeons in their care for their patients with a simple, effective, and holistic solution for the management of bleeding” said Etienne Binant, CEO of Biom’up. “Biom'up has created innovative and clinically proven products that cover many different surgical specialties - orthopedics, spinal, cardiac, general, and maxillo-facial and dental.”

Studies have shown that during general surgical procedures, the HemoBlast Bellows device achieved 93% efficacy for hemostasis within six minutes, with a significantly shorter preparation time. Common adverse events included abnormal bloodwork, anemia, arrhythmia, and pain, none of which were related to the device itself. No unanticipated adverse device effects occurred.

Collagen is the main structural protein of connective tissue, making up 25-35% of the whole-body protein content. It is one of the body’s key natural resources and a component of skin tissue that can benefit all stages of the wound healing process. The importance of re-establishing a functional extracellular matrix (ECM) in chronic wounds has led to a renewed interest in collagen-based wound healing products, which can be applied either in the surgical or clinical setting, serving as a natural wound dressing with properties that artificial wound dressings do not possess.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starch Medical Inc. a privately held manufacturer and marketer of polysaccharide based hemostatic products for use in controlling bleeding in surgery and trauma applications has expanded its product portfolio with the launch of SuperClot® Hemostat in Europe.

Starch Medical received CE Approval earlier this year for SuperClot® and will utilize their existing network of distribution partners along with new strategic partners to bring this innovative new polymer hemostat solution to surgical teams and hospitals throughout Europe. Next week Starch Medical will exhibit and hold distributor meetings at MEDICA the world's leading trade fair for the medical industry held in Düsseldorf, Germany from November 13-16, 2017.

“The market for economical, safe and effective polysaccharide hemostats is growing rapidly worldwide and especially in Europe. Our exclusive agreement to market Starch Medical’s SuperClot® Hemostat in Italy provides us with the opportunity to better serve our hospitals and their patients,” said Giovanni Capello, Chief Executive Officer of Medix. “In addition to rapid and effective hemostasis, our surgeons are attracted by the wide variety of surgical applications where SuperClot® can be used. We believe that Starch Medical’s hemostat product line including SealFoam®, SealFoam® Sternal and now SuperClot® will become the standard to control the majority of surgical bleeding in the future.”

“Surgeons and hospitals around the world are rapidly adopting the benefits of our hemostatic platform technology to enhance their performance in addressing various bleeding scenarios,” stated Stephen Heniges, President at Starch Medical. “Since our products contain no human or animal components the safety profile is excellent. The ability of SuperClot® to rapidly penetrate blood and form an adhesive gel to help seal the wound will be greatly appreciated by our customers.”

Starch Medical will continue to expand its product portfolio and pursue strategic partners in key markets globally and expects to further penetrate Asia, Europe and The Middle East in the near future.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Scientists Develop Squirtable Glue That Seals Wounds In Seconds

A potentially life-saving surgical glue that is highly elastic and adhesive can quickly seal wounds in seconds without the need for common staples or sutures.
The surgical glue, called MeTro, is a development from biomedical engineers at the University of Sydney and biomedical engineers from Harvard University.
MeTro has a high elasticity that can seal wounds in body tissues that need to expand and contract continuously, like the lungs, heart and arteries. Wounds on these types of tissues are prone to re-opening after sealing with staples and sutures.
The glue is also beneficial for wounds that are in hard-to-reach places that have traditionally needed staples or sutures because of body fluids interfering with other sealants.
“MeTro seems to remain stable over the period that wounds need to heal in demanding mechanical conditions and later it degrades without any signs of toxicity; it checks off all the boxes of a highly versatile and efficient surgical sealant with potential also beyond pulmonary and vascular suture and staple-less applications,” director of the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center at Harvard Medical School professor Ali Khademhosseini said in a press release.
When treated with UV light, MeTro takes just 60 seconds to set. It has a built-in degrading enzyme that can customized for the amount of time needed to allow a wound to heal.
“The beauty of the MeTro formulation is that, as soon as it comes in contact with tissue surfaces, it solidifies into a gel-like phase without running away,” Nasim Annabi, lead author of the study, said. “We then further stabilize it by curling it on-site with a short light-mediated cross linking treatment. This allows the sealant to be very accurately place and to tightly bond and interlock with structures on the tissue surface.”
So far, MeTro has quickly and successfully sealed artery incisions in the lungs of rodents and pigs without the use of sutures and staples.
Harvard researchers were also recently inspired by slug mucus to to create an adhesive to eliminate the need for staples and sutures.
One of the researchers, University of Sydney professor Anthony Weiss, suggests that the process in which MeTro works is similar to how silicone sealants work around bathroom and kitchen tiles.
“When you watch MeTro, you can see it act like a liquid, filling the gaps and conforming to the shape of the wound,” Weiss said. “It responds well biologically and interfaces closely with human tissue to promote healing. The gel is easily stored and can b squirted directly onto a wound or cavity.”
The researchers also suggest that the concept of MeTro could be used in emergency situations in addition to in surgical procedures and hopes to start clinical testing soon.
“The potential applications are powerful – from treating serious internal wounds at emergency sites such as following car accidents and in war zones, as well as improving hospital surgeries,” Weiss said.

Gecko Biomedical receives CE Mark Approval for SETALUM™ Sealant

Paris, France, September 11, 2017 – Gecko Biomedical (“Gecko”), a medical device company developing innovative polymers to support tissue reconstruction, announced today that it has received CE Mark approval for its SETALUM™ Sealant allowing the company to market its technology in Europe.

The SETALUM™ Sealant is a biocompatible, bioresorbable and on-demand activated sealant usable in wet and dynamic environments as an add-on to sutures during vascular surgery. The polymer is applied to tissue in-situ and activated using a proprietary light activation pen.

The technology at the foundation of the SETALUM™ Sealant was developed at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. SETALUM™ Sealant is the most recent successful example of bio-inspired technology in medicine, and is based on the adhesive mechanisms found in nature that work in wet and dynamic environments.

The grant of the CE Mark for the vascular sealant is the first regulatory validation of the safety and performance of Gecko Biomedical’s scalable and innovative polymer platform.

“The SETALUM™ sealant can be precisely and easily applied thanks to its viscosity and hydrophobicity and then activated at will to provide an instant hermetic barrier and effective hemostasis. The key features of this polymer technology were selected with physicians and patients in mind, and significantly improves upon the latest generation of hemostatic agents to become a gold standard in vascular surgery,” said Jean-Marc Alsac, MD, PhD, vascular surgeon at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou in Paris, France and the principal investigator of Gecko Biomedical’s BlueSeal clinical study.

The BlueSeal clinical study was a prospective, single-arm and multi-center clinical investigation performed at four French university hospitals and undertaken in patients necessitating a carotid endarterectomy. Performance of the sealant was evaluated by the percentage of immediate hemostasis following clamp removal. Based on a sequential Bayesian design, the recruitment was stopped at 22 enrolled patients given the fulfilled performance criteria and the optimal safety profile of the sealant. Immediate hemostasis was achieved in 85% of patients and all recorded adverse events were found to be representative of those commonly occurring in patients necessitating vascular reconstruction with none considered as related to the sealant.

Christophe Bancel, Gecko’s CEO, said: “We are delighted to receive the CE Mark for our first product, SETALUM™ Sealant, as this will allow us to bring new and innovative solutions to the market to improve patient care. As a result, we are now ramping up our manufacturing capabilities and selection of strategic partners to bring this innovation to patients.”

The company is swiftly expanding its applications, targeting new functionalities and tissue types to develop solutions for new clinical indications and geographic markets.

“Our ability to bring an entire new family of innovative polymers from the bench to the bedside in less than two and a half years, is a testimony of the versatility and scalability of our platform. We are now ready to fully expand, internally and through partnerships, into new therapeutic areas to design disruptive, surgical solutions for patients,” Bancel added.

Friday, June 9, 2017

TissuGlu® Surgical Adhesive enables drain-free recovery in patients undergoing DIEP flap breast reconstruction

RALEIGH, N.C., June 08, 2017 -- Outcomes of the SANA Gerresheim series demonstrated that effective donor-site flap closure with TissuGlu Surgical Adhesive is a viable alternative to post-surgical drains.  Dr. Sonia Fertsch presented the series, which included 41 DIEP flap breast reconstructions, at the EURAPS Research Council Meeting in Pisa last month. The annual event allows young surgeons to present top research initiatives to an audience of plastic surgeons and researchers from around the world. 
During a DIEP flap reconstruction, blood vessels, skin and fat of the lower abdomen are removed and utilized to reconstruct a breast following mastectomy.  The technique is widely recognized as the top option for autologous tissue breast reconstruction, but typically requires the use of several surgical drains at the donor site during recovery.  Drains may cause discomfort, anxiety and limited mobility during recovery and are often a deterrent for patients when considering treatment options.
The Department of Plastic Surgery at the SANA Clinic in Gerresheim, Germany, headed up by Prof. Christoph Andree, is a top center for reconstruction and performs approximately 200 DIEP procedures per year. The group, dedicated to improving recovery and acceptance of DIEP flap reconstructions, began evaluating TissuGlu® Surgical Adhesive in 2015 with hopes it would enable drain-free donor site recovery.
“The choice of using a patient’s own tissue for breast reconstruction has clear benefits with respect to implant based reconstruction, and patients who are candidates for DIEP flap-based reconstruction appreciate the reduction in abdominal skin and fatty tissue,” says Prof. Christoph Andree. “Being able to offer this procedure without the use of donor site drains improves the patient experience in the early recovery period and leads to earlier mobilization – one of the key milestones in postoperative recovery.” 
Dr. Fertsch, who led the observational series, said: “Many of our patients have had experience with post-surgical drains in the past and they are very enthusiastic about the possibility that they may be able to avoid having them as part of the DIEP flap breast reconstruction procedure. It is not for all patients, but it is a welcome option for those who meet the criteria we have developed based on our clinical outcomes data.”  
Mart Pearson, VP Europe for Cohera Medical, Inc. added: “We were very pleased that this series report on drain-free donor site closure with TissuGlu was selected for presentation at such a high-level meeting. Prof. Andree and his team at the SANA Clinic in Gerresheim have been very attentive to the patient perspective with regards to the post-surgical recovery period and it is exciting to have their experience discussed at this venue.” 

Snake venom is key ingredient in experimental drug for heart patients

An experimental antiplatelet drug has surprising bite. Based on a protein found in snake venom, the new drug prevented blood clotting in mice without causing excessive bleeding after an injury, according to research published Thursday in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology. The drug has yet to be tested in humans.

Bleeding is a common side effect in the current crop of available antiplatelet drugs, which are usually prescribed for heart patients to prevent blood cells, called platelets, from clumping together and forming clots. Depending on where they occur, clots can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

“As a scientist, it is always intriguing to learn from our mother nature,” wrote Y. Jane Tseng, co-lead author of the study and a professor at the Genomics Center School of Pharmacy at National Taiwan University, in an email.

“There is a long history of using snake venom as a tool to study blood clotting mechanism,” Tseng said, adding that the only available antiplatelet drugs used for thrombosis — in which a clot occurs in a blood vessel and obstructs circulation — are also based on venom, though not the same one used in her study.

Tur-Fu Huang, co-lead author of the study and a professor at the Graduate Institute of Pharmacology at National Taiwan University, said some snake venoms are neurotoxic — poisonous to the brain — while others are hemorrhagic and “affect blood coagulation and platelet function profoundly.” The new research concentrated on venom that is hemorrhagic in nature.

In earlier work, Huang, Tseng and their colleagues found that trowaglerix from the venom of Tropidolaemus wagleri, commonly known as Wagler’s pit viper, latched onto glycoprotein VI, a protein that sits on the surface of platelets.

“Not every snake venom acts in similar mode on platelets,” Tseng said.

This attachment to glycoprotein VI is how trowaglerix stimulates platelets to form blood clots, the researchers learned. Platelets that are missing glycoprotein VI do not form blood clots and do not lead to severe bleeding.

If glycoprotein VI could be blocked, the research team hypothesized, would that prevent prolonged bleeding?

Putting this theory to the test, the researchers designed a molecule that could prevent clotting, and with added properties of trowaglerix, it did not cause severe bleeding. When this experimental drug was given to mice, the rodents showed slower blood clot formation, yet they also did not bleed longer than untreated mice, Tseng and her colleagues found.

“We successfully transformed trowaglerix into an anti-thrombotic agent,” said Huang, who noted that the experimental drug was both effective and safe. Still, it needs further testing in animals and humans, which will take some time.

In the meantime, he said, it can be modified and optimized “to a more potent and stable agent” with potential for use in patients. Ultimately, he and his colleagues hope their work could yield an entire class of effective antiplatelet drugs with limited side effects.

‘Of course there are safety issues’

Dr. Leslie Boyer, director of the VIPER Institute in Tucson, Arizona, said the new study “doesn’t automatically mean that you have a drug, because of course there are safety issues.”

“If they could find a very perfectly tuned molecule that a snake makes and give just the right dose,” Boyer said, it might be “of therapeutic benefit to certain people.”

“Venom contains many, many toxins. Even a single snake might have a 100 different types of venom molecules in their repertoire,” said Boyer, who was not involved in the new study. She added that even though the modest dose of venom delivered when a snake bites is “quite toxic.” But if you took that same poisonous venom, teased out the ingredients, scaled them down and used only a low dose, there are a lot of ingredients “that could be put to good use.”

Toxicologists don’t really distinguish one molecule as poisonous and another as benign, she said.

“It’s all a matter of dose,” Boyer said. “So a small dose of something might be a medicine, and a large dose becomes a poison.”

Snakes have venom for all kinds of reasons, she said, though the biggest reason, perhaps, is “to make lunch hold still.”

“A lot of snakes are relatively slow-moving creatures. They’re ambush predators or they only travel a short distance to get their prey,” Boyer said, noting that snakes “have one chance, one quick strike, to administer something that’s going to make very fast-moving prey, like a bird or a rodent, hold still — fall down and wait to be eaten.”

The molecules in snake venom, then, interact with the nervous system or with the cardiovascular system and represent “potential drugs” that might act on the nervous system to lessen pain or relax muscles, she said. The venom molecules that interact with the cardiovascular system, as Tseng, Huang and their co-authors show, “have the potential to be used for blood pressure problems or for heart rate situations, things like that,” Boyer said.

There are other toxins that have a direct effect on the tissues next to where the fang goes in that can digest proteins, which along with fat is what animals are made of, so “those molecules have all kinds of potential also,” she said. “For instance, breaking down specific proteins is something that might be useful not only for drugs but maybe for laundry detergent or things that remove stains. Maybe they’re good for recycling.”

But, caution is required, Boyer said: The reason we know anything about venom at all is that snake bites make people sick.