UNC Scientists Collaborate on Breakthrough Research

Discovery holds promise for new drugs to treat clotting disorders, heart patients

Steven Mackessy

Stephen Mackessy

University of Northern Colorado faculty Stephen Mackessy and Ashis Mukherjee recently discovered that a protein in a venomous snake has potential to be used to develop drugs to treat clotting disorders and heart patients.

Mackessy and Mukherjee isolated the protein Russelobin from the venom of Russell's Viper, a venomous snake native to India. The non-lethal protein has properties that could be used in new cardiovascular drugs.

The paper, published in Biochimica Biophysica Acta, includes some of the work conducted at Mackessy's lab at UNC while Mukherjee, a UNC adjunct faculty member from India's Tezpur University who was a visiting scientist at UNC last year. The article is available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304416513000500.

In 2011, Mackessy earned grant funding for research showing promise in creating drugs from snake venoms to treat and limit the spread of breast, colon and skin cancers.

On a related note, Mackessy was also recently invited to present a paper on reptile venoms and toxins to the British Toxicology Society in Solihull, United Kingdom.