Amateur vaccine developer has let venomous snakes bite him 160 times

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Tim Friede, 37, has been working on a snake venom vaccine for 16 years, allowing himself to be bitten by venomous snakes nearly once a month.

To prove his self-immunization theory works, Tim from Wisconsin, USA, recently took back-to-back bites from two of the world’s deadliest snakes – a taipan and a black mamba whose bite can kill in minutes. Unsurprisingly, his obsession with saving the tens of thousands of lives lost every year to snakebites has nearly killed him on a number of occasions and also cost him his marriage. His wife Beth Friede, 35, divorced him in October after 20 years together when she finally had enough of Tim’s snake obsession. Despite the controversial nature of his experiments Tim does have some backing from the scientific community. Dr Brian Hanley, a PhD Microbiologist from the University of California, says a test suggests Tim now has twice the number of antibodies and hopes his company Butterfly Sciences will help him develop his vaccine and find investors to get it into the field.

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Medical cures from the mouth of a mamba

Here, scientists suck all the dignity out of a Jameson’s mamba — a snake capable of killing a human in just a few, painful hours. The photo is part of a story in the February issue of National Geographic, exploring the potential medical uses of venom. There are also more photos. And you will meet cobra farmers.

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