An amateur scientist has deliberately endured more than 160 self-inflicted snake bites in a bid to become immune to venom.
Tim Friede is obsessed by finding a human antidote to poisonous snake bites, which kill an estimated 100,000 people every year.
"I will not stop doing this until the vaccine is in the field or I die," he told Barcroft Media.
Mr Friede was recently bitten by a taipan and a black mamba, two deadly snakes he keeps at his home in Wisconsin, USA, in addition to his two rattlesnakes and water cobra.
He said he experienced a “real throbbing sensation” but he “felt great” after the bites.
“It really hurts and it swells but that's it," he said.
In pictures: venomous snakes
In pictures: venomous snakes
1/5 Egyptian Cobra
Found in the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, the cobra’s venom can kill a human within 15 minutes and an elephant in three hours. It can be recognised by its small flat head and round snout
2/5 Puff Adder
Found across Southern Africa, the snake, which has dark stripes, hunts small mammals, birds, lizards, frogs and toads
3/5 Black Mamba
Once thought to be the world’s deadliest snake, the black mamba is found in Southern and Eastern Africa. It strikes once, then waits for its prey to become paralysed before devouring it
4/5 Carpet Viper
The snake, which is found in South Asia and India, has a speckled belly and a distinctive cross-shaped white mark on its head. It hunts lizards scorpions and centipedes
5/5 Spitting Cobra
The colour varies on this snake, which is found in sub-Saharan Africa. It eats small rodents, lizards and other snakes. Unlike other snakes it projects its venom
After two consecutive cobra bites in 2011, he fell into a coma and almost died, he said.
"Because it was so bad it's really cool to be at this stage now where I can beat these bites," he said.
"I started this because I wanted to self-immunise in case I was bitten while handling my snakes, but when I witnessed the results I realised that this could be used for the greater good.
"Too many people die from snake bites and I know that my vaccine will help them when it is fully developed."
Snake bites pose a significant, yet neglected global health problem, venom expert Dr Rachel Currier, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Independent.
In addition to the 100,00 deaths every year, 400,000 surviving victims are left with permanent disabilities.
But regarding Mr Friede's amateur work, she said: "Self-immunisation with snake venom is incredibly dangerous.
"Research into snake bite antidotes primarily requires an understanding of the different toxic components which make up venoms."
"Historically, treatments for snake bites have been produced by hyper-immunising horses or sheep with harmless amounts of venom."
Ex-wife Beth divorced Mr Friede last year after 20 years of marriage, exasperated by his dangerous amateur research. “The snakes were always first", she said. “Me and the kids never came in first, sometimes not even second.
“I was always scared of [the snakes] so it was terrifying living with them for nearly 20 years - by the end of it I'd just had enough.”Reuse content