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Towards better antivenoms: navigating the road to new types of snakebite envenoming therapies

Suthimon Thumtecho1, 2, Nick J. Burlet2, Anne Ljungars2, Andreas H. Laustsen2* [ + show more ]

J Venom Anim Toxins incl Trop Dis, 2023, 29:e20230057
Received: 16 August 2023 | Accepted: 01 December 2023 | Published online: 18 December 2023
Collection: Spotlighting toxinology: from animal toxins to next-generation technologies and products


Snakebite envenoming is a significant global health challenge, and for over a century, traditional plasma-derived antivenoms from hyperimmunized animals have been the primary treatment against this infliction. However, these antivenoms have several inherent limitations, including the risk of causing adverse reactions when administered to patients, batch-to-batch variation, and high production costs. To address these issues and improve treatment outcomes, the development of new types of antivenoms is crucial. During this development, key aspects such as improved clinical efficacy, enhanced safety profiles, and greater affordability should be in focus. To achieve these goals, modern biotechnological methods can be applied to the discovery and development of therapeutic agents that can neutralize medically important toxins from multiple snake species. This review highlights some of these agents, including monoclonal antibodies, nanobodies, and selected small molecules, that can achieve broad toxin neutralization, have favorable safety profiles, and can be produced on a large scale with standardized manufacturing processes. Considering the inherent strengths and limitations related to the pharmacokinetics of these different agents, a combination of them might be beneficial in the development of new types of antivenom products with improved therapeutic properties. While the implementation of new therapies requires time, it is foreseeable that the application of biotechnological advancements represents a promising trajectory toward the development of improved therapies for snakebite envenoming. As research and development continue to advance, these new products could emerge as the mainstay treatment in the future.

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