Toxins have evolved over millions of years to target the nervous systems of prey with pinpoint precision.
Most people may now see wild animals as a source of disease and not for treatment, although animals, like plants, have long been used by humans for medicinal purposes.
Traditional Chinese medicine, for example, uses ingredients extracted from 36 animal species, such as rhinoceros, black bears, tigers, and seahorses – the most endangered animals. Indian Ayurvedic medicine recommends the use of snake venom to treat arthritis, while the bite of the tarantula spiders and their crushed fangs are used in traditional medicine in South America, Asia and Africa to treat several diseases, from cancerous tumors to dental pain and asthma.
But the vast majority of traditional treatments are not supported by scientific evidence, as well as the use of animal parts hasten the extinction of some species, such as the Western black rhinoceros.
The osteoporosis, whose scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine, has been accused of being a source of the emerging coronavirus. Senior scientists have warned this week that the use of wild animals may lead to a recurrence of deadly epidemics in the future.
But now it is possible to take advantage of the therapeutic properties of the components extracted from wild animals safely using advanced scientific techniques to study their chemical elements. These techniques only require DNA sequencing.