Man makes deadly snakes bite him 160 times in hunt for human antidote

'I will not stop doing this until the vaccine is in the field or I die,' Tim Friede says

Charlotte Beale
Thursday 21 January 2016 20:02 GMT
A black mamba, which recently bit Tim Friede: it "felt great", he said
A black mamba, which recently bit Tim Friede: it "felt great", he said

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.

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.

"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."

Woman bitten by snake

"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.”

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