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UK Press: Native African Snakebite Cures Go Under Microscope


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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on November 18, 2000 at 09:51:59:

FOX NEWS NETWORK (USA) 16 November 00 Native African Snakebite Cures Go Under the Microscope (Anjana Ahuja - The Times, London UK)
AP: Professor Asuzu hopes to develop antidotes to bites from snakes, including the cobra.
Professor Isaac Asuzu, from the University of Nigeria, was taken into the confidence of his country's village healers and given plant samples used to treat bites from cobras and vipers.
Even though antidotes to snakebites are available at town hospitals in Nigeria, victims turn to local healers because it is quicker. When two days can make the difference between life and death, traveling becomes an unattractive option. Professor Asuzu was awarded a Wellcome Trust Traveling Fellowship to bring ten plants to the laboratory of Professor Alan Harvey at Strathclyde University.
"To start with we make quite a crude extract, pretty much as the native healers would do, perhaps by making a herbal tea, straining it, and then looking at what's in the solution," he told the trust's magazine, Wellcome News.
The extracts were purified, then applied to tissue cultures treated with deadly venom from Nigerian snakes. Four preparations appeared to stem or reverse the damage being wrought by the poisons. The next step will be to isolate the active ingredients and test them in live animals, such as mice.
Professor Asuzu also plans to set up his own tissue-culture laboratory in Nigeria so he can harness the herbal wisdom that medicine men apply to other ailments. The knowledge he gleans will be shared with village healers so they can turn their life-saving art into a science.



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