Magazine article Geographical

Biting Back: Snake Bites Remain a Major Danger for People in Developing Countries, with over 4.5 Million Bites Recorded Annually. Could a Recent Breakthrough Be the First Step towards a Universal Anti-Venom?

Magazine article Geographical

Biting Back: Snake Bites Remain a Major Danger for People in Developing Countries, with over 4.5 Million Bites Recorded Annually. Could a Recent Breakthrough Be the First Step towards a Universal Anti-Venom?

Article excerpt

For many rural and agricultural communities around the world - particularly in India and sub-Saharan Africa - there are few more immediate daily threats than that of venomous snake bites. More than 100,000 deaths are recorded annually, with a further 2.7 million people suffering crippling injuries.

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One major problem is economics; developing anti-venoms for each individual snake species is time-consuming (often involving the collection of antibodies from horses in Mexico or Australia which have been previously injected with the venom) and, therefore, expensive. With a lack of affordable healthcare, the people most in danger of experiencing a poisonous snake bite often have limited access to the expensive procedures - potentially up to $100,000 -necessary to save their lives in the aftermath of a bite.

Step forward the 'nanodote'. Developed by chemists at the University of California, Irvine, this anti-venom utilises revolutionary nanotechnology to recognize proteins familiar to a wide variety of snake venom, and, by absorbing the toxins contained within, is capable of stopping them from rupturing cell membranes, and consequently preventing severe injuries and fatalities. …

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