Snake venoms stored for up to 80 years remain biologically active, according to new research.

Snake venoms have been used to develop drugs such as Captopril, used to treat high blood pressure, and Byetta, which is used to treat diabetes and has off-label effectiveness as an anti-obesity drug.

University of Queensland researchers examined 52 venom samples and found they remained biologically active even after being stored for up to eight decades.

“The research shows that properly stored venoms remain scientifically useful for decades and that vintage venom collections may be of continuing value in toxin research,” said Associate Professor Bryan Fry.

“Venoms and toxins are a rich source of unexplored compounds which could be used in drug discovery and development,” Dr Fry said.

The venoms studied by researchers came from the collection curated by the late Struan Sutherland, head of Immunology Research at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for 28 years until 1994, and then founder of the Australian Venom Research Unit at the University of Melbourne.

“The venoms of different species have extensive variation so each venom sample is a precious resource which could contain the next wonder-drug,” said Dr Fry.

“Storing these samples correctly is particularly important as many venomous snake species worldwide are declining and fresh venom may be difficult to come by,” Dr Fry said. The study was published in the Journal of Proteomics.

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