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Medical research: New potential treatment for black mamba venom

Nature Communications

October 3, 2018

A potential new human-derived cocktail of antibodies for the treatment of black mamba venom is presented in Nature Communications this week. The findings, demonstrated in mice, suggest that human-derived antibodies may hold promise for delivering safer and more effective treatments against snake bite toxins than current anti-venoms.

The venom of the black mamba is a potent, fast-acting toxin associated with high fatality if left untreated. The venom is comprised of multiple toxins including a dendrotoxin that targets the nervous system, resulting in paralysis and death. Current anti-venoms are derived from the plasma of hyper-immunized animals. However, they are expensive, show limited effect and can be associated with severe reactions when administered to patients, including serum sickness and severe anaphylaxis.

Andreas Laustsen and colleagues identify an experimental recombinant anti-venom composed of a cocktail of human antibodies that can neutralize the dendrotoxin of the black mamba. When this experimental anti-venom is administered in a mouse model it stops the neurotoxic effects of black mamba venom. The study provides a novel means to identify and test potential anti-venoms.

doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06086-4

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