Health Editor’s Note: Previous ways to produce antivenoms have been somewhat haphazard with injecting small amount of the venom into an animal and from that animal collecting the antibodies it develops to ward off the venom. Then those antibodies are collected and used for antivenom when given to humans or animals which have been bitten.
This process often comes with side effects and perhaps does not even work. The new process, of developing antivenoms from the snake’s genes which are responsible for the production of the toxin/venom would turn off the harmful/deadly effects of the cobra venom. India looses about 46,000 people per year to the bite of the Indian cobra. If this new form of developing anitvenom can be perfected, it would follow that an effective and efficient antivenom can be developed for any poisonous snake, lizard, insect, etc. Saving lives…..Carol
Newly Sequenced Indian Cobra Genome Could Lead to Better Antivenoms
Katherine J. Wu/Smithsonianmag.com
The secret to surviving a cobra bite isn’t ice or a tourniquet, and it certainly isn’t sucking venom out of an open wound. Instead, one of humankind’s most powerful weapons against these deadly encounters is modern genetics—the ability to sequence a snake’s genome and leverage venom-specific genes to synthesize an ideal antidote.
Now, a team of researchers has taken this exact strategy with the genome of the India cobra (Naja naja), one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. Their findings, published this week in Nature Genetics, reveals that at least 19 genes are responsible for cobra venom’s toxic effects—and could help lay the groundwork for a new generation of antivenoms that quickly and precisely render the products of these genes ineffective. Such breakthroughs are urgently needed, especially in India, where more than 46,000 people die every year from snake bites, reports Megan Molteni at Wired.
For more than a century, researchers have relied on a somewhat murky process to produce antivenoms: injecting small doses of venom into animals like rabbits or horses then harvesting and purifying the protective antibodies their bodies produce to neutralize the noxious substance. The laborious process of generating these animal-derived cocktails is error-prone and expensive…..Read More: