Lizard Venom Being Studied for Blood-Thinning Drugs

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. potential / pəˈtɛn ʃəl / (n) – possibility

    The medical student has the potential to become a great doctor.

  2. prey / preɪ / (n) – an animal hunted by another animal for food

    The snake wrapped its body around its helpless prey.

  3. native / ˈneɪ tɪv / (adj) – describing anything living in the same place it was born

    The kangaroo is one of the many animals native to Australia.

  4. contribution / ˌkɒn trəˈbyu ʃən / (n) – an act or effort that helps a person or a cause

    Her great contribution to the medical field is undeniable.

  5. promising / ˈprɒm ə sɪŋ / (adj) – having the potential of a good result

    The government funds promising researches.


Read the text below.

Lizard venom may be useful in preventing strokes and heart attacks, according to a recent study published by Nature Research.

Researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia analyzed lizard venom for its potential to prevent blood clots and be used in blood-thinning drugs. Based on the study’s results, lizard venom primarily targets the blood-clotting protein called fibrinogen / faɪˈbrɪn ə dʒən /.

Lead researcher Dr. Bryan Fry also explained that the venom also affects prey in different ways depending on where the cut was made by the lizard. This illustrates that the venom can potentially be used to target certain areas of the body.

Most lizards were previously considered non-venomous because their toxins are not strong enough to kill prey instantly. However, Fry and his team have concluded that these weak toxins are still a type of venom.

The researchers studied sixteen species of large lizards native to Australia and countries in Asia and Africa. Their subjects included the Komodo dragon and the Gila / ˈhi lə /  monster, which are both endangered species.

Though Fry reported that studies on lizard venom are still in their early stages, their contribution to the medical field looks promising. Exenatide, an injectable drug developed from Gila monster venom, is already being used to treat diabetes. In addition, the drug is being tested as a treatment for obesity and Parkinson’s disease. According to Fry, further studies on lizard venom may result in other cures for various medical conditions in the future.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you support the idea of extracting venom from endangered species to develop new drugs? Why or why not?
• How can developers and manufacturers of venom-based medicine assure potential customers of its safety and effectiveness?

Discussion B

• Is it necessary for patients to know what their medicines contain? Why or why not?
• Would you prefer medicine made from animals or medicine made from man-made chemicals? Why?

Category : Health