Scientists in five countries, including the United Kingdom, hope to find a universal remedy for snake bites using the same technology used to detect HIV antibodies.
A new consortium of poison specialists in India, Kenya, Nigeria, the UK and the US will do research and development of antibodies to treat snake-biting critical diseases that harm nearly 3 million people each year worldwide.
The consortium will seek an antidote consisting of "humanized antibodies" rather than conventional animal-based therapies that can sometimes be harmful. In snakebite victims, Prof. Robert Harrison, head of the Snakebite Research and Intervention Center, said the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
"We are pursuing what we call the next generation of snakebite therapies, which we hope will be able to bite off any snake in Africa or India in a community situation and without the need for a cold chain, "said Harrison.
"The conventional method of producing an anti-snake antidote is to purify antibodies from venom-immunized horses or sheep and inject them into patients. This can lead to unwanted side effects, which is why the antivenin must be given in a hospital.
"This means that the victims of their communities, which are usually several hours away, must be hospitalized. Over time, pathologies that are very serious can usually progress, sometimes leading to serious disfigurement or death , "
Rory Stewart, UK's International Development Minister, announced last week to provide GBP 9 million in UK funding to fund research A new antidote would help develop" affordable, accessible and effective treatment " Success to bring about an improvement.
"In parts of Africa and Asia, snakebites are a daily threat, causing life-altering disabilities or, in the worst case, death. "Stewart said."
"More than 80,000 people die from snakebites each year, and because of the large variety of snake poisons, people often do not get the treatment they need, if at all, in time. "UK The pledge is one of the recent commitments to transform the management of snake bites." Last week, the Wellcome Trust announced a £ 80m program to improve current therapies and develop new ones, with the World Health Organization announcing a on Thursday new strategy to halve the number of snakebite deaths by 2030.
Taken together, these commitments represent "a complete change in snake bite management and a real hope for the future," said Harrison.
"In the last 50 or 60 years, there has been no significant investment in game changers. We've had problems over the last 20 years getting enough funding to fund research on snake bite management, and we're happy to see funding available for us and other key groups like the International Aids Vaccine Initiative. The more scientific evidence is gained about it, the better the global outcome will be.
The novel approach to finding a universal snakebite remedy emerged after American HIV researcher Dr. Devin Sok's method for localizing the different strains detected by anti-HIV antibodies could also be applied to snakebite. Sok then contacted Harrison in Liverpool.
"Our consortium exemplifies how to tackle major global health issues such as snakebite by bringing together leaders in different areas to share ideas, tools, technologies, and insights."
"This kind of synergy is a working model to find new solutions to long-term global health challenges and accelerate product development for neglected diseases.
Snake venom kills 138,000 people each year and permanently deactivates another 400,000. The victims come from the poorest parts of Africa and India, where access to antidotes ranges from non-existent to minimal.
Still, antivenom is not the only answer, says Harrison, who said that 90% of affected people are affected in sub-Saharan Africa. Available products are ineffective. "They are either for non-African snakes or the concentrations are too low to be effective," he said.
Ben Waldmann, manager of the Snakebite program at Health Action International, welcomed the WHO goal of halving the number of snakebite deaths. However, by 2030, governments must first understand the scale of the problem by counting the number of annual snakes Accurately record deaths. Many victims live too far from hospitals to seek professional treatment.
"Our field research shows that snakebite victims, without alternative, continue to visit traditional healers as the first port of call," Waldmann said.
"Strengthening communities and improving treatment options reduces the role of traditional healers in favor of an effective and reliable health care system."
About 250 species of snakes have medically harmful toxins. The variety and complexity of their poisons pose a major challenge to health workers.
Existing venom therapies are based on 19th-century methods: snakes are milked for their venom and then injected into large animals, such as horses, whose antibodies are harvested to humans.
But these antidotes can have harmful – and sometimes fatal – effects on patients, Harrison said, ranging from severe abdominal cramps to anaphylactic shock, as the antibodies are produced by horses or sheep and are therefore "foreign". ,
The consortium, referred to as the Scientific Research Partnership for Neglected Tropical Snakebite (SRPNTS), will instead focus on the production of "humanized antibodies" derived from blood cells of snakebite survivors and large animals such as camels, cows and horses have been immunized with poison. The goal is to "develop the next generation of snake bite therapies that allow us to detect, bind and reverse all the toxins of African and Indian snakes," said Harrison.
However, for the development of a successful antidote, approximately four years are required preclinical work, with a further three years – at least – for manufacturing and clinical trials, he warned.
The consortium believes, however, that their combined knowledge could radically change the way snakebites are treated worldwide.