The World Health Organization said that the primary treatment for a snakebite is the administration of antivenoms which has been the practice for 100 years.
Antivenoms boost the immune system in response to a snakebite, saving the life of the person being bitten by a snake. Usually, they are made from milking the venom from the snake and then immunizing donor animals like horses or sheep. These animals have a robust immune system and can produce strong antibodies that can eliminate the body from the system.
Technically, an antivenom is obtained by harvesting it and then purifying the antibodies produced by the donor animal. According to WHO, good-quality antivenom can literally make the difference between life and death.
Despite antivenoms being a lifesaver, they are also expensive. According to a report by New Atlas, the production of antivenoms are expensive, time-consuming, and must only be administered by trained clinicians.
Its production is a lengthy process, not to mention that those who do the extraction is also at risk of getting bitten by those venomous snakes. since these antivenoms are administered intravenously, it should be done in a hospital or a clinic.
But unfortunately, most snakebites happen in remotely located agricultural settings where healthcare facilities are only a few and located far from the resident. Besides, not all antivenoms can work on all snakebites because there is a specific antivenom required for bites from specific types of snakes.
Some examples of antivenom include those for king cobra that costs $153,000 per gallon, for the brown snake that costs for $4,000 per gram, desert death adder that costs $3,000 per gram, etc.
Administered on the Spot
Scientists from the University of Copenhagen, led by associate professor Brian Lohse, and scientists from the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Münster have created a self-applied antivenom that costs less than the available antivenoms today.
According to New Atlas' report, they have used an easily produced peptide that can bind and neutralize a lethal toxin found in the venom of approximately 75% of all the venomous snakes. He said that In vitro laboratory tests have shown its effectiveness against the quick-acting cobra venom that may also work on other types of venom.
"If it becomes a future product, it will fit in your pocket, and it can be used by anyone, anywhere," Lohse said. "The idea is that it can be injected using an automatic injection unit, precisely like the ones used by diabetes patients, that is, directly into the muscle or fold of the skin at the site of the bite."
The report also said that the University of Copenhagen is now commercializing the peptide-based antivenom with the spinoff company Serpentides. The results of their study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
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