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Vittorio Erspamer,
Pharmacologist & Chemist

Italian Scientist >


An Italian scientist, Vittorio Erspamer, of the University of Rome was the first to analyze Kambo in the lab.  Vittorio Erspamer was twice nominated for a nobel prize and was also responsible for first discovering the well known neurotransmitter Serotonin.   Erspamer concluded that Kambo contains a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’.  His findings brought great attention to the area of peptides which have since become very important to the medical field.

Vittorio Erspamer was an Italian pharmacologist and chemist, known for the identification, synthesis and pharmacological studies of more than sixty new chemical compounds, most notably serotonin and octopamine. (Wikipedia)

Phyllomedusa, Amphibian

Monkey Tree Frog >


In the laboratories of the Institute of Medical Pharmacology, University of Rome, he isolated from amphibians and mollusks more than fifty new bioactive peptides. These became the subjects of numerous studies in other laboratories in Europe and North America.  In 1979, he focused on opioid peptides specific to Phyllomedusa, waxy monkey tree frog, from Central and South America.   



The research activities of Erspamer spanned more than 60 years and resulted in the isolation, identification, synthesis and pharmacological study of more than sixty new chemical compounds. Among these compounds were polypeptides and biogenic amines, and also some alkaloids. Most of these compounds were isolated from animals, predominantly amphibiansIn the late fifties, his research shifted to peptides.  



Analgesic Effects

These were used by the native Indians in initiation rites, to increase their prowess as “hunters” and make them feel “invincible”.   They applied secretions from the skin of these frogs that resulted in analgesic effects.

harvest kambo.jpg
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