A drug contained in snake oil may help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
The drug may help the body’s natural defences against the build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Amyloid plaques are lumps of protein which are usually kept in check by enzymes.
In people with Alzheimer’s, though, these enzymes do not do their job.
The molecule, which was discovered in snake venom, could help activate the enzymes and break down the plaques.
The snake venom originally came from a pit viper, which is found in South and Central America.
This is the result of a long search stretching back years by Dr Sanjaya Kuruppu.
The scientists have now developed a synthetic version and found that it works on human cells in the lab.
Although it might sound unusual, snake venoms are actually a common inspiration for pharmaceutical research.
The study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports (Smith et al., 2016).
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Alzheimer’s image from Shutterstock