According to the World Health Organization,about 5.8 million people bite snakes every year. Since half of these snakes are venomous, up to about 140,000 of these cases are fatal. When people get bitten by a snake, it is important for people to go to the hospital right away, where they should be given an antidote. But snakebites usually occur in forests, far from hospitals. Therefore, scientists from Denmark decided to develop a device with which you can quickly inject yourself with an antidote without assistance. Typically, snakebite medications are given intravenously, so researchers had to develop a completely new antidote. It can be injected under the skin with a syringe that people use to inject insulin for diabetes. Let's see how it all works?
How do antidotes work?
There are about 3,600 species of snakes in the world andabout 600 of them are poisonous. To create an antidote, scientists force dangerous snakes to bite an animal, usually a horse. After the bite, the animal's immunity begins to produce antibodies to the poison that has entered the body. Researchers extract these antibodies from the blood and use them as a remedy against snake venom. Snakes are different, so the appropriate antidote is used against each bite. These drugs are time-consuming to create, so sometimes the cost of antivenom reaches $ 2,000.
As a rule, victims of poisonous snakes becomeresidents of poor countries. They make very little money, so they don't even have to rely on an expensive antidote. And even if there is a bite remedy, it must be correctly introduced into the body. And in poor countries, medicine is very poorly developed and a person who knows how to administer drugs intravenously may not be around. A hospital may be several hundred kilometers from the scene, so it is high time for scientists to develop an antidote that anyone can use.
It is important to note, that sometimes people die or become disabled, not from snakebite, but from the use of a cheap and poorly tested antidote.
New remedy for snake bites
According to the scientific publication Journal of MedicinalChemistry, Danish scientists have developed an antidote that can be made cheaply and quickly in any laboratory. When injected into the human body, it binds the α-cobratoxin protein found in most snake venoms. Thanks to this, the poison cannot penetrate into the bloodstream of a person and becomes practically harmless. But you need to use the antidote immediately after the bite, so scientists have made it as easy as possible to administer it.
See also: How do patterns on the backs of snakes help them go unnoticed?
Snake bite remedy does not need to be administeredintravenously. To do this, it is enough to use a syringe for subcutaneous administration of drugs. This means that people in poor countries will not need medical training. When hiking in the forest, you just need to carry a life-saving device with you and in case of a snake bite, quickly inject the antidote under the skin in the area of the bite. This is a very important invention that can save hundreds of thousands of lives a year. The main thing is that the antidote withstands the heat and does not need to be stored in the refrigerator. Scientists do not yet know exactly in what conditions the drug retains its properties, but they are already trying to find an answer.
When exactly will the antidote go on sale, whileunknown. Human trials have not yet been carried out - before that, the agent needs to be tested on laboratory animals. If everything goes well, the medicine will most likely become available in pharmacies and in the future we will take with us to the forest not only a mosquito repellent, but also an antidote.
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But it is important to consider that some snakes are dangerous far awaynot with your poisonous teeth. Some of them can suffocate or completely swallow a person. Also in the world there is a kukri snake (Oligodon fasciolatus), which mainly lives in Thailand. For a long time, scientists did not even suspect about their cruelty. But in 2016, they found out that these creatures literally gut the insides of their victims. You can read more about these cruel creatures in this article.