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Synthetic Antibody to Neutralize Snake Bite Toxin |

Synthetic Antibody to Neutralize Snake Bite Toxin

Context

∙ Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have developed a synthetic human antibody that can neutralize a potent neurotoxin produced by the Elapidae family of snakes.

About

∙ Snake Bites cause thousands of deaths every year, especially in India and sub-Saharan Africa. 

∙ The Elapidae family of snakes are highly toxic and include the cobra, king cobra, krait and black mamba.

Current Strategy for Developing Anti-Venom

∙ It involves injecting snake venom into equines like horses, ponies and mules, and collecting antibodies from their blood.

∙ Challenges: These animals get exposed to various bacteria and viruses during their lifetime.

∙ As a result, anti-venom also includes antibodies against microorganisms, which are therapeutically redundant. 

∙ Research has shown that less than 10% of a vial of antivenom actually contains antibodies that are targeted towards snake venom toxins.

The Synthetic Antibody

∙ The antibody developed by the team targets a conserved region found in the core of a major toxin called the three-finger toxin (3FTx) in the elapid venom. 

∙ Although different species of elapids produce different 3FTxs, a handful of regions in the protein are similar. 

∙ The team zeroed in on one such conserved region – a disulphide core.

∙ They designed a large library of artificial antibodies from humans and tested the antibodies ability to bind to 3FTxs from various elapid snakes around the world.

∙ They found one antibody that could bind strongly to various 3FTxs. 

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