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These scientists may have just developed a universal anti-venom

© Petr Ganaj/Pexels

For centuries, snake bites have been a scourge that humanity would gladly do without, causing thousands of deaths each year. Even though it is not as deadly as the mosquito, the WHO explains in this article that “ Each year, between 81&nbsp ;410 and 137 880 people die following a snake bite ”. The search for a universal anti-venom, capable of neutralizing the venoms of all species of snakes, has become the Holy Grail of toxicology. Today, thanks to unprecedented international collaboration, this quest may seem to be coming to an end.

In a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, an international team of researchers reports the results of their work. They have succeeded in developing a new kind of anti-venom. Named 95Mat5, it is the result of cutting-edge technologies and offers a glimmer of hope not only for the effective treatment of victims, but also for the prevention of the deadly effects of these bites.

Of Snakes and Men

Its revolutionary design is based on the ‘use of&#8217 ;recombinant antibodies produced from human cell lines. This approach is a radical departure from the traditional method of producing anti-venoms, involving the inoculation of venom into animals such as horses, rabbits or sheep. These animals are inoculated with small doses of venom to stimulate their immune system to produce antibodies against the specific toxins in the venom. These antibodies are then purified from the animal's blood to create the corresponding anti-venom.

By avoiding the use of serums of animal origin, 95Mat5 virtually eliminates the risk of serious allergic reactions in patients, a common problem with classic anti-venoms. This advance makes it possible to treat victims while maximizing safety and considerably improve their chances of survival.

The 95Mat5 acts specifically against three-fingered toxins, neurotoxic components present in the venom of many snakes in the Elapid family, such as cobras and mambas. These toxins severely disrupt the nervous system by binding to specific receptors on neurons, sometimes causing paralysis or even death.

Kartik Sunagar, l’ one of the researchers at the head of this study, compares the action of 95Mat5 to that of a “ sponge& nbsp;”. By mimicking the receptors that toxins usually target, the anti-venom attracts them and draws them away from the real receptors, thus neutralizing their harmful effect .

Towards universal and accessible treatment of snake bites ?

This innovative approach not only saves lives, but also opens the way to a universal treatment, capable of neutralizing the venoms of many species of snakes. The advent of a universal anti-venom could revolutionize the management of snake bites, particularly in tropical regions where these incidents are frequent and often fatal. A considerable advance, which could save thousands of lives each year, particularly among the most vulnerable populations.

“ It’s a problem of the poor ,” explains Sunagar. “ Snake bite victims are found in rural areas, and that's why no one is too concerned about this problem ” continues the researcher. A very sad observation, but terribly real.

However, the challenge of large-scale production still remains an obstacle. This type of vaccine must be economically viable and offered at an affordable cost, even more so for the populations most at risk, generally agricultural workers in developing countries.

Despite this, Sunagar remains optimistic about the future of 95Mat5. Collaborations between researchers, international organizations and drug manufacturers aim to optimize production processes and explore new solutions in order to reduce manufacturing costs.

He believes investors will be attracted by the potential for reduced manufacturing costs and the prospect of rapid approval by public health agencies to conduct clinical trials. Sunagar therefore calls for increased mobilization of governments and international organizations with the aim of financing research and development of the 95Mat5. It also highlights the importance of clarifying regulatory approval procedures and accelerating clinical trials in order to make this universal anti-venom accessible to populations as quickly as possible. Let's cross our fingers, and hope that the efforts of Sunagar and his teams are not brought to naught by lack of political will or by a lack of financial resources.

  • 95Mat5 is an innovative anti-venom, created from recombinant antibodies.
  • It neutralizes the neurotoxic toxins of elapid snakes by acting as a “sponge”.
  • Large-scale production is still far away, but collaborations international organizations seek to make the 95Mat5 economically viable and widely affordable.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116