Taking the Bite Out of Bloodstains

Snake venom enzyme may help remove such spots from clothing, study says

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MONDAY, March 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Snake venom may take the bite out of stubborn bloodstains in your laundry.

An enzyme extracted from the venom of the Florida cottonmouth seems to help launder out blood spots on clothing, says a report presented March 29 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.

"We have partially isolated a component of the Florida cottonmouth snake venom that's capable of dissolving a blood clot, and we've used this component to determine if it will help remove bloodstains from clothes," Devin Iimoto, a biochemist at Whittier College, says in a prepared statement.

This fibrinolytic enzyme hampers the body's attempts to seal off the area of the snake bite wound, thus allowing the toxins in the snake's venom to spread through the body.

Researchers applied this snake venom enzyme to spots of blood that had been air-dried for an hour on swatches of white denim. Those swatches were later laundered along with untreated bloodstained control swatches in a household washing machine, using warm water and common laundry detergent.

When the laundry was done, the bloodstains on the swatches treated with snake venom were much fainter than the bloodstains on the untreated swatches.

More information

The University of Florida has more about venomous snake bites.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, March 29, 2004

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