A yellow pit viper snake drinks water droplets on a flower at the Dhupguri snake park, about 75 km (47 miles) from the northeastern Indian city of Siliguri, May 3, 2007. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA)

London - Snake poison is being used to treat deafness. Ancrod, a drug based on the venom of the Malayan pit viper, is being prescribed to people who have suffered from a sudden loss of hearing, or sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

In many sufferers, it seems to occur overnight, while others may notice a loud “pop” just before their hearing disappears.

Researchers now believe the condition occurs when key parts of the inner ear do not get enough oxygen, perhaps as a result of a virus or a blood vessel defect in the ear.

The drug ancrod is thought to work by thinning the blood and boosting circulation. It has also been investigated for use in stroke patients.

Doctors at the University of Gottingen, Germany, are about to start a clinical trial of 100 men and women where patients will receive injections of the drug over the course of three days, within a week of their hearing loss. - Daily Mail