Can Human Saliva Someday Become Venomous?

While snakes have venom glands, humans, on the other hand, have salivary glands. However, researchers have discovered that human beings might one day have similar venom glands. Researchers from the Australian National University and Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology studied the genes that both interact and work together with the venom in the pit viper snake. 

What the researchers found suggested that the genetic makeup required for the evolution of oral venom can also seen in both mammal and reptile genes. This means that human beings might want day to be able to develop venomous saliva. 

The “An ancient, conserved gene regulatory network led to the rise of oral venom systems” study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal is the first scientific proof that underlies the link between mammals salivary glands and snakes’ venom glands. 

Venom’s Ancient Foundation

The ancient foundation of venom in snakes is revealed in this study. Agnes Barua, a study author, said that venom is basically a proteins cocktail that animals use to immobilize their prey or foes. However, besides snakes, they’re many other animals that also have venom, such as scorpions, spiders, jellyfish, and some certain mammals. Understanding how the different genes interact and bind with each other helped the study authors further understand the importance of regulating protein folding and modification. 

Mail Online believes that long amino acids should fold in certain ways during gene production. They believe this because even one misfolded protein could result in a pile-up which could eventually damage cells. Barua explained that it’s important to have a robust system that all the proteins can be folded correctly and can function effectively. 

When they discovered that human beings have genes in the salivary gland that are somewhat similar to what you’ll find in venom glands, they concluded that both these glands have similar ancient foundations that have been there since the split of the two lineages happened way back. 

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