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Venom Research/ Open Lines

Date Friday - December 2, 2016
Host George Noory
Guests Bryan Grieg FryOpen Lines

A biology professor at the University of Queensland, Bryan Grieg Fry, is group leader of the Venomics Laboratory. In the first half of the show, he discussed his work with the world's deadliest creatures and how he’s been bitten by numerous venomous snakes (as well as getting stung by three stingrays and surviving a near-fatal scorpion sting). All this to collect venom for his research which has contributed to the creation of venom-based life-saving medications.

Some widely prescribed high blood pressure medications are produced from a class of compounds derived from snake toxin (South American lance head viper), Fry explained. These drugs alone make up a $10 billion/year market and are in the top-selling drugs of all time, right up there with aspirin, he added. "This shows why the only good snake is a live snake," Fry said, noting the vast economic resource snake venom offers the world.

According to Fry, one must consider both toxicity and venom yield when determining the most deadly snakes. He rated the Australian coastal taipan the deadliest of snakes since it can inject 250 times the amount of toxin required to kill a human. Snake which evolved to kill mammals are the most harmful to humans, Fry revealed, citing the Australian brown snake as one that can end a person's life within 15 minutes.

Fry shared some of his own snake bite stories, including an incident with a Stephens' banded snake that caused him to bleed from his eyes, mouth and rectum, and the time a death adder bite produced neurotoxin effects similar to a DMT trip. Fry cautioned that snakes only strike humans out of fear, as a defensive mechanism against something they view as a predator.

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Open Lines followed in the second half of the program. Barry in Rock Hill, South Carolina, told George about the time he was bitten by a pit viper while fishing in a small pond. Barry said he grabbed the snake by the head and took it with him to the hospital, where he discovered they did not have the correct antivenin. After becoming violently ill he finally received the antidote which alleviated the symptoms within a few minutes.

Zach in Utah phoned into explain how nineteenth-century settlers in his state used hogs to drive snakes into an area called Hogs Hollow. Zach admitted to encountering at least a half a dozen rattlesnakes there. Kevin in Titusville, Florida, shared a cherished memory from 1981 when he snuck back stage at Carlos Santana concert. Kevin also reported being bitten by two brown recluse spiders.

News segment guests: Jerome Corsi / Peter Davenport

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