Venomous snake bites are extremely dangerous. They can produce an array of symptoms, including localized pain and swelling, convulsions, nausea, and even paralysis. Usually the first aid steps that one can follow after a snake bite occurs are cleaning the wound, remaining calm, and immobilizing the affected area.
Lately, the scientists have come up with experimental anti-venom against the toxins that are released when the black mamba bites. The black mamba is an extremely venomous snake of the family Elapidae, and native to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It was first described by Albert Günther in 1864. It is the longest species of venomous snake indigenous to the African continent. The mature specimens generally exceed 2 meters and commonly attain 3 meters. The research has been conducted by the researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). They stated that the findings are such that they will bring about a drastic shift in the known and practiced treatment of snakebites. The antibodies for the experimental black mamba antivenom were discovered using an antibody library. The antibody library contains human antibody genes extracted from white blood cells in donor blood. These genes were then inserted into genetically modified virus particles that can express the desired human antibodies on their surfaces. The virus particles are further used to screen and find human antibodies. These antibodies have to be those that can bind to black mamba dendrotoxins. The antibody genes were inserted into mammalian cells which act as cell factories with a large output of monoclonal antibodies. The discovered antibodies have various applications such as industrial setting for large-scale production in huge fermentation tanks, similar to insulin production. Although these finding through this research has come up but still it will take a lot of years for it to practically in use and cross the boundaries of the research laboratory. The researchers are planning to develop more antibodies for the anti-venom to increase its scope and to make it useful against several types of snake venoms. Slowly and steadily the researchers shall develop anti-venom against several other species of snakes also. Once the research is clinically tested, it will be used widely in those cases wherein the snake species is unknown. This research was indeed the need of the hour. With the increasing number of people dying due to snakebites, such a research is greatly purposeful. Almost 1,00,000 people annually die of snakebite envenoming. Since, snake bites are most common in poor areas and not so developed areas of the world, this research shall be focused specifically for such areas.
By: Anuja Arora