Biotechnology can make life easier, especially when it’s about snakebites. This problem is a major public health burden for low-income countries in tropical parts of the world. The physicians in sub-Saharan Africa are waiting for cheap and effective antivenom for saving the lives.
Biotechnology can offer a hope for snakebite victims all over the world. Snakebites as the heavy burden concern the public health sector of the low-income countries, especially in tropical parts of the world. There are around 5 million bites and 150,000 deaths every year. And about 400,000 victims become permanently disabled annually.
According to statistic, there are around 5 million bites and 150,000 deaths every year. And about 400,000 victims become permanently disabled annually. The most problematic region in this statistic is Africa, where lives and bites the most notorious of snake species—black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis).
Biotechnology and antivenom for snakebites
Biotechnology can help to synthesise the antivenom substance, which will be save the lives after biting of the snake. For an instance, black mamba’s bite means 99,9% fatality rate if left untreated. Today hospitals use the antiserum derived from animals and produced using methods developed 120 years ago.
Schematic representation of serum-based antivenom production. (Photo: Andreas Hougaard Laustsen)
Innovations in biotechnology being used to produce pharmaceuticals for other treatments could also be applied to producing antivenoms. These would be made in laboratory conditions rather than extracted from animals. According to the article published on The Conversation, scientists have been exploring various avenues to produce antivenoms based on mixtures of antibodies, rather than having them derive from animals.
This is a scientifically and commercially sound opportunity that promises to bring the shortage of snakebite antivenoms in sub-Saharan Africa to an end, not immediately but certainly in the medium to longer term.