The synthetic antibody targets a toxin produced by the Elapidae family of snakes, which includes cobras, kraits and mambas. Photo Credit: Riadi Pracipta / 500px via Getty Images

AnimalsHealth United Kingdom14. March 2024

Antivenom That Cures All Snake Bites in the Works!

A team of researchers based in England, the United Kingdom, has created a synthetic antibody capable of neutralizing the deadly venom of a family of snakes. The findings could potentially lead to a unique universal antivenom.

“We are wiping out a major subclass of neurotoxins here,” explains Nicholas Casewell, one of the study’s co-author and a toxinologist at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “I think this is a really huge step in terms of what can be achieved by a single antibody.”

Snake venom attacks the nervous system, tissues, or bloodstream, claiming the lives of between 81,000 and 138,000 people each year and leaving more than 400,000 people permanently disabled. Yet, it isn’t widely subject to research. 2017 the World Health Organization declared snake bites among the highest-priority neglected tropical diseases. The research team focused its effort on long-chain three-finger alpha-neurotoxins, a core component of a significant toxin in the venom produced by snakes in the Elapidae family – the black mamba, king cobra, and kraits are part of it. It used a screening method, analyzing some 60 billion artificial human antibodies to identify the ones that grasped the tightest onto the three-finger alpha neurotoxin. One stood out in tests on human cells, being the most effective to neutralize its toxicity. The findings on counteracting this deadly venom could lead to extending this antibody-production strategy to other venom toxins. All the antibodies are to be combined to shut down the toxins in every venomous snake through a universal antivenom to counteract them all.

Smithsonian Magazine

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