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Snake Oil: From Quack Medicine to Cure for Cardiac Disease

After the Burmese python gorges on massive quantities of food, its metabolism increases by about 40% and its organs enlarge: its gastrointestinal tract doubles in size, and its heart cells swell by about 40%. No new tissue is generated -- the cells grow in a process called hypertrophy. The enlarged heart of the python is not unlike that of the human athlete, heavily muscled and extremely capable. Despite ingesting immense volumes of fat, the heart of the Burmese python never seems to suffer from plaque buildup.

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The Deadliest Healer: King Cobra Venom Used in a High-Strength Painkiller

Although it is one of the most powerful painkillers in use, not even morphine can alleviate every pain. For these cases, there were few options other than letting the pain run its course. But now, a new option has arisen. A protein unique to king cobra venom that elicits neurological reactions in mice called ohanin is being used in a painkiller that is 20 times more potent than morphine, and has no observable side effects.

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