Scientists have found that snake venom can be used for easing the debilitating pain from arthritis.
Naftali Primor, research and development manager at the Shulov Institute of Sciences (SIS) in Israel where the research is being carried out, believes that an analgesic based on snake venom could be on sale within five years.
The researchers studied the Palestinian viper - the most common snake in Israel - and said people suffering from arthritis could get relief using a cream made of chemicals found in snake venom, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
Primor said: "About 99 percent of the venom is non-toxic, which leaves us with a great source of possible drug components. A snake venom pain-relieving cream could be on sale within five years."
The researchers believe that other chemicals found in snake venom could be exploited to make drugs to treat diseases such as cancer.
They found that out of every 1,000 molecules present in the venom, only four or five were poisonous. They isolated one of the molecules, which had analgesic properties and made a safe, synthetic copy called VeP-3.
The Arthritis Research Campaign said they had heard of examples of people with arthritis being bitten by snakes and having their pain reduced.
"Similarly, others have reported the same effect from bee stings and nettles and it appears that all venom and stings have some kind of pain-relieving properties," spokesperson Jane Tadman added.
"Obviously people shouldn't seek out adders to bite them on the off-chance that it might help their arthritis, but a synthetic form of venom minus the toxins might be the answer," she said.