Oct 4, 2018

New Weapon Against Gruesome Venomous Snakebites Is Invisible to the Eye

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, nanotechnology

When it comes to venomous snake bites, time is tissue. Even non-fatal snake bites still rapidly kill skin and muscle in a gruesome process called necrosis, often leaving victims permanently disfigured. In an effort to help reduce the global health burden of these bites, a team of scientists has developed an antivenom cocktail that saves tissue after a snake bite, sparing survivors a lifetime of disability.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers demonstrate that their formula, when injected into mice that had been exposed to venom from a black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis), protected against any tissue-killing effects. What’s unique about their new treatment is that it’s not made up of any one substance but a mixture of nanoparticles, which can target the individual compounds that make up a snake’s poison.

“If this is achieved, then the progression of this local necrosis would be halted, and then the person can be transported to a health facility to receive the antivenom, but the local tissue damage would have been controlled and the frequency of permanent tissue damage and sequelae would be reduced,” José María Gutiérrez, Ph.D.. a senior professor of microbiology at Instituto Clodomiro Picado (the University of Costa Rica) and one of the paper’s authors, tells Inverse.

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