29 May 2007

Hawaii to join snake venom study in fight against strokes

3:54 pm on 29 May 2007

Doctors in Hawaii are using snake venom to make a drug they hope will improve the treatment of strokes.

Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper reports the Queen's Medical Center, Hawaii's largest private hospital, is one of 65 centres participating in the study, which aims to reduce brain cell damage in stroke patients.

The venom comes from the Malayan pit viper, a ground snake common in the forests of South-East Asia.

The anticoagulant which is the focus of the study has been approved for use in various countries but the hope is it will soon be available in the United States.

The hope is that the drug could break up blood clots in ischemic stroke patients, extending the treatement time so fewer brain cells will die.