Brazilian viper venom shows promise as drug to combat COVID-19

Brazilian scientists have discovered that a native viper’s venom can be used as a drug to help combat COVID-19, Reuters reported.

In the scientific journal Molecules, scientists shared results from a study on monkey cells showing that a molecule from a Brazilian jararacussu pit viper can inhibit the virus’s ability to multiply by 75 percent. 

A molecule in the venom can connect to the enzyme of the virus, PLPro, which is vital to the reproduction of the virus, according to Reuters. 

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"We were able to show this component of snake venom was able to inhibit a very important protein from the virus," University of São Paulo professor Rafael Guido told the news agency. 

Scientists will now evaluate the efficiency of different doses of the molecule, seeking to determine if it can prevent the virus from entering cells, Reuters noted.

The discovery also sparked some concerns. Herpetologist Giuseppe Puorto said that he worries about people traveling around the country trying to be cured by the viper’s venom. 

"We're wary about people going out to hunt the jararacussu around Brazil, thinking they're going to save the world. ... That's not it!" Puorto told Reuters. "It's not the venom itself that will cure the coronavirus."

The jararacussu pit viper is also one of the largest snakes in Brazil, measuring up to 6 feet, 2 inches, Reuters reported. 

COVID-19 cases and deaths are trending downward in Brazil, which has been among the hardest-hit countries in the world. Much of the world is going through another wave of COVID-19 infections as the highly contagious delta variant spreads mostly among those who are unvaccinated. 

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