Yeast developed to produce snake venom

The protein contained in the venom of the viper Agkistrodon acutus is a natural anticoagulant that prevents blood clots from forming. Unlike many drugs of a similar effect, which cause profuse bleeding, its use has practically no side effects. In a form that is safe enough for mass use, it is very difficult to isolate it from the venom of the viper.

Under the guidance of Professor Xiao Weihua from the University of Science and Technology of China, two snake genes were inserted into the chromosome of the yeast rod Pichia pastoris, which is widely used in the food industry. Genetically modified yeast is absolutely safe for humans, but can produce the required protein after adding methanol and glycerol.

The resulting product has passed safety checks in China and is now preparing for mass production. The modified yeast structure is short-lived and dies after 36 hours, but using it will help save 15, 000 vipers a year. The team of scientists plans to develop a cure for cancer based on this technology.