A man in Wisconsin claims to be immune to snake venom, according to the Daily Mail. Tim Friede claims to have been practicing the art of self-immunization for 17 years by exposing himself to snake bites. The 39-year-old has allegedly inflicted himself with over 200 bites from some of the deadliest snakes in the world. Tim is hoping his experiments may help in developing vaccines that could save lives. Tim’s efforts have not gone unnoticed, according to the report from the Daily Mail.
Dr. Brian Hanley, a microbiologist from the University of California, has shown interest in Tim’s work. Hanley is the founder of Butterfly Sciences, a company specialized in gene therapy and hyper-immunity. Hanley believes that his company could help Tim develop vaccines and find investors for mass production.
Hanley explained, “Tim has sky-high levels of antibodies to venoms. I haven’t confirmed this, but the one set of tests on him that we’ve done suggested that his total antibody levels are at least double normal. It isn’t easy to do that.”
Snake venom contains toxins that can block or overstimulate the nervous system. The toxins cause paralysis of the muscles needed for breathing. The paralysis may be rapid or take some hours before death if untreated with antivenom. The venom dissolves the membrane of muscles cells, causing the muscle protein to leak into the urine, poising the kidneys in the process. The black mamba is among the snakes Tim afflicted himself with, according to the Daily Mail. The black mamba is one of the world’s deadliest snakes. It is the fastest land snake in the world. Two drops of a black mamba’s venom are enough to kill a human victim.
Another person allegedly immune to snake bite, according to the Guardian, is Steve Ludwin. The musician has allegedly been injecting himself with snake venom for 30 years, the Guardian reports. The animal lover admits injecting himself with a cocktail of black mamba, cobra, and puff-adder venom once. However, the viability of self-immunization remains unproven. Hanley believes Friede’s daring efforts could lead to the production of a vaccine for snake bite.
According to the Telegraph, snakes kill over 90,000 people yearly around the world. India has the largest number of victims with 11,000 lives lost. The report states that many victims do not seek medical help. In some regions, matching antivenom may not be available for immediate treatment of snake bites. A vaccine could reduce the death toll due to snake bites.