Snake's flesh-melting venom made into medication
Picture this: an idyllic, remote island just off the coast of Brazil.
Crystal clear waters and lush forests with not another soul in sight - for many it sounds like the perfect holiday destination.
But there’s just one problem, Ilha de Queimada Grande off the coast of Brazil is home to 4,000 Golden Lancehead Vipers, one of the deadliest snakes in the world.
‘Snake Island’ airs tonight at 8.30pm on Channel 9 after Married at First Sight. For more on 60 Minutes, visit the official website.
Better known as ‘Snake Island,’ the tiny pocket of land is considered the most dangerous acreage on the planet. For their own safety, humans are banned from visiting unless given special clearance.
This Sunday on 60 Minutes, Tara Brown journeys to the island with Australian molecular biologist and self-confessed snake geek, Bryan Fry.
Dr Fry is part of a research project studying the potential medical benefits of the snakes’ venom.
Already, the Golden Lancehead Vipers have been responsible for a life-saving blood pressure medication.
But as Fry tells Brown, striving for breakthroughs comes with great risks.
The Golden Lancehead Vipers’ isolation has given them evolutionary quirks - their venom is five times more poisonous than their mainland cousins. In some cases, it’s been known to melt human flesh.
“With these snakes it will be a particularly painful death,” says Fry.
“You’re going to die screaming.”
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019