Scientists milk snakes to make more stable broad spectrum anti-venom
- Scientists at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) are advancing the science of anti-venom treatment.
- A total of 32,000 people die each year from snake bites in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Although there are currently anti-venom treatments, they are too costly for the population ($140 per vial and up to $500 per treatment). There are also problems with storage and with the ability to maximize production.
Researchers at LSTM, led by Dr .Robert Harrison, are advancing anti-venom treatment by manipulating the proteins and molecules in the venoms from the Source Scale Viper, the Puff Adder and the Spitting Cobra, with the goal of creating a potent, broad-spectrum anti-venom.
By focusing on proteins, the scientists will be able to make each vial of anti-venom more potent. In addition, the team is adding special molecules to make the anti-venom more stable at ambient temperatures, thereby reducing the need for refrigeration units. All told, the goal is to reduce not only snake bite-related death, but also snake bite-related disability.