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This newly-developed molecular gel will halt spread of snake venom. (Image courtesy: Google)

Molecular Gel: Will Halt Spread Of Snake Venom And Cut Treatment Cost

Scientists have developed a novel molecular method which could come in handy in terms of neutralizing lethal snake venom. It is also quite cheap.

Worldwide, it is estimated that 4.5 million people are bitten by snakes annually. About 2.7 million are suffering from crippling injuries and more than 1,00,000 dies.

Most of the are farm workers and children in poor, rural parts of India and sub-saharan Africa. They possesses quite little healthcare.

UCI chemistry professor Ken Shea (right) and doctoral student Jeffrey O'Brien have developed a broad-spectrum snake venom antidote. (Image Courtesy: Google)
UCI chemistry professor Ken Shea (right) and doctoral student Jeffrey O’Brien have developed a broad-spectrum snake venom antidote. (Image Courtesy: Google)

Effect of antidote

Existing treatment requires slower intravenous infusion at the hospital. It is costing up to $1,00,000. Antidote provided only halts the damage inflicted by a smaller number of species.

Jeffrey O’Brien is from University of California and is a lead of the study conducted. He adds, “Current anti venom is very specific to certain snake types. Ours seems to show broad spectrum ability to stop cell destruction across species on many continents, and that is quite a big deal.”

Zeroing in on the protein families are quite common to many of the serpents. Researchers described this in their study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. It adds that the newer solution could further halt the worst effects of cobras and kraits in Asia and Africa. It can even pit vipers in North America.

Team synthesized a polymer nanogel material which binds to several key protein toxins. It is keeping them from bursting cell membranes and is causing widespread destruction.

Specific venom is absorbed over the surface of nanoparticles in the newer material and is permanently sequestered there. It is diverted from doing harm as explained by senior author of the paper Kenneth Shea. He is a professor of University of California, Irvine.

Thanks to the use of readily available, non-poisonous components, the ‘nanodote’ is having a long shelf life. It even costs far less. O’ Brien adds, “Our treatment costs pennies on the dollar and, unlike the current one, requires no refrigeration.”

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