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Indian, US Researchers Develop Snake Anti-Venom


Indian, US Researchers Develop Snake Anti-Venom

Photo: Scripps

SAN DIEGO, CA (IANS) – A team of scientists at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, and Scripps Research Institute, here have developed a synthetic human antibody that can neutralize a potent neurotoxin produced by the Elapidae family of highly venomous snakes, which includes the cobra, king cobra, krait, and black mamba, found throughout Africa, Asia, and Australia.

The team adopted an approach used earlier to screen for antibodies against HIV and Covid-19 to synthesize the new venom-neutralizing antibody.

In the study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers said that this development takes us one step closer to a universal antibody solution that can offer broad protection against a variety of snake venoms.

Snakebites cause thousands of deaths every year, especially in India and sub-Saharan Africa.

The current strategy for developing anti-venoms involves injecting snake venom into equines like horses, ponies, and mules, and collecting antibodies from their blood. But there are several problems.

The team also tested their antibody against the whole venom of the monocled cobra from eastern India and the black mamba from sub-Saharan Africa and found similar results. The efficacy of the antibody was found to be nearly 15 times that of the conventional product.

The researchers used human-derived cell lines to produce the antibody, bypassing the need to inject the venom into animals like horses.

Since it is an entirely human antibody, hence, side-effects, including fatal anaphylaxis, occasionally observed in patients being treated with conventional antivenom, can be prevented. Secondly, this would mean that animals need not be harmed in the future to produce this life-saving antidote.

The same approach can be used to develop antibodies against other snake venoms too, which can then be combined into a single anti-venom therapy.

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