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    Nov 18, 2020

National Geographic
Deadliest Lifesavers | Zoltan Takacs

February 3rd, 2021

Time: 7:00pm

The Earth's deadliest animal venoms are a source of a number of lifesaving medicines used to treat everything from heart attacks to diabetes. Yet there are millions of venom toxins in nature that remain unexplored. Biomedical scientist and inventor Zoltan Takacs collects snake, scorpion, jellyfish, and other venoms from around the world. Back in the lab, using cutting-edge genomics, he creates combinatorial venom libraries to identify leads for novel medicines.

Driven by his childhood passion, he's traveled to 155 countries and become an aircraft pilot, scuba diver, and real-life survivor, roughing it in a hammock deep in the Amazon or in remote Pacific islands. In his mission, he survived charging elephants, pirated waters, and a series of snake bites and venom spit in his face (all his faults he admits). Now he's allergic to both snake venom and antivenom.

What makes venoms so valuable to medicine is their molecular design. Venoms have evolved to precision-target and annihilate vital life functions-meaning that the blueprint of venoms could be harnessed to design novel medicines to heal those very same life functions, from cardiovascular diseases to cancer and beyond.

Zoltan Takacs

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