IIT Delhi students develop cheaper drug to protect against snakebite

 In order to cure the toxic effect of snake venom, students from IIT Delhi have developed what could be a cheaper and more effective solution than anti-venom

Snake-Bite

Lethal Toxin-Neutralising Factor (LTNF) is a peptide that is known to neutralise snake venom. A process for producing highly purified recombinant LTNF has been developed.

Anurag Rathore, one of the researchers and professor at IIT Delhi, said, “Peptides is a compound consisting of two or more amino acids linked in a chain. With respect to obtaining the desired process yield and selectivity, purification of peptides offers unique challenges. Lethal Toxin-Neutralising Factor (LTNF) is a peptide that is known to neutralise snake venom. A process for producing highly purified recombinant LTNF has been developed.”

The research has been done in collaboration with San Jose University, U.S.A., “We have developed a process to manufacture LTNF using recombinant DNA technology and have filed for a patent for the same. The product has shown efficacy against rattlesnake and viper venoms and is undergoing further testing,” said Rathod.

It is very difficult to determine the number of snakebites that occur worldwide, but the best available evidence suggests that each year as many as 2.7 million people develop a clinical illness following a bite from a venomous snake.

A majority of incidents of snakebite occur in the world’s tropical and sub-tropical regions, and it particularly impacts the poor. Snakebite envenoming is a potentially life-threatening disease that typically results from the injection of a mixture of different toxins (‘venom’) following the bite of a venomous snake.

WHO says that the overall level of investment in research addressing snakebite, from prevention to diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, is exceptionally low in comparison to its impact – snakebite is a neglected disease. The estimated number of snake bites around the world is as high as 1.84 resulting in death of more than 1 million people every year. More than a lakh die every year in India

“Snakebite can cause tissue necrosis, severe haemorrhaging, paralysis, heart failure, and other significant effects depending on the type of snake and severity of the bite,” he added.

“If successful, this therapy will be promising in offering a more cost-effective as well as stable substitute. There was a dire need for designing a process for manufacturing anti-venom that is cheaper and more effective. Current anti-venoms are produced in livestock, and the resulting anti-venom products can cause allergenic reactions in patients,” he said.

Dr Himmatrao Bawaskar, who is well known for his research on treatment for scorpion poisoning, said, “The IIT Delhi research against snake bite is still in trial stage. But, since World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it a neglected disease, the research work has started in many countries with WHO funds. It is important to carry out research and training program against snake bite.”