A superhuman can take bites from the world’s deadliest snakes after making himself immune to their venom.
Tim Friede, 37, has self-inflicted more than 160 bites in his 16 years of research and is hoping his experiments will help to develop a human vaccine for snake bites.
To prove his self-immunisation theory works, he recently took back-to-back bites from two of the world’s deadliest snakes – a practice which would have killed most humans within 15 minutes.
‘I’m probably the only person in the world who can take a bite back-to-back from a taipan and a black mamba and live,’ says Tim.
‘I will not stop doing this until the vaccine is in the field or I die.
‘My arms were killing me after the bites, there is a real throbbing sensation but I felt great.’
Unsurprisingly, Tim’s obsession with saving the tens of thousands of lives lost every year to snakebites has nearly killed him on a number of occasions.
‘I made a big mistake, back in 2011, I took two cobra bites,’ recalls Tim. ‘The first one was fine but on the second one I flatlined.
‘I was in a coma and very nearly died – it was rough.
‘Because it was so bad it’s really cool to be at this stage now where I can beat these bites.
‘It was a big mistake but sometimes you’ve got to make those mistakes and get through them.’
Tim keeps and immunises himself against five of the world’s most deadly snakes at his home in Wisconsin, USA.
‘I have a mojave rattlesnake, water cobras, PNG taipan, black mamba and western diamond back rattlesnake and I can take a bite from all of them,’ he says.
Despite the controversial nature of his experiments Tim does have some backing from the scientific community.
Dr Brian Hanley is a scientist who has worked in gene and vaccine therapy. He said: ‘I tend to like people who get out and do something really hard against the odds.
‘Here’s a guy with a high school education who self-taught himself some pretty sophisticated immunology and molecular biology.
‘Tim has sky-high levels of antibodies to venoms. I haven’t confirmed this, but the one set of tests on him that were done suggested that his total antibody levels are at least double normal. It isn’t easy to do that.’
Tim hopes that the pain he has suffered over the course of 16 years will help to stop some of the 100,000 deaths caused by snakebites each year.
‘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.’