UA professor makes major breakthrough in snakebite treatment

UA professor makes major breakthrough in snakebite treatment

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A professor at the University of Arizona has discovered a way to stop or slow down the effects of a rattlesnake bite.

Dr. Vance Nielsen, a professor at the UA College of Medicine, has been working on this research for years.

He found that his carbon monoxide-based treatment inhibits venom for up to an hour.

He said that would buy some time for snakebite victims to get to the hospital or get antivenin.

"It can be helpful for people who are either tourists that get bit - the people who live there, of course," Nielsen said. "It even, in a sense, has a military application. Right now it is just supportive care, but you may have something that can slow down or stop the effects of venomous snakes."

Nielson also found that this doesn't just work on rattlesnakes but up to three dozen different types of venomous snakes.

And he said it works as soon as it is administered.

"It is not something you have to refrigerate. It is not something only a physician could give. It would be something like an EpiPen ... that you would give to the bite site and directly affect the venom that is there," he said. "So it can be in a backpack. It would be with a medic."

Nielson said this research is still in its early stages.

Right now, he is waiting for funding to test on animals.

There is no timeline for the treatment will be available to the public.

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