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Journal Article


Gomes A, Ghosh S, Gomes A. Indian J. Med. Res. 2020; 151(6): 525-527.


(Copyright © 2020, Indian Council of Medical Research)






Snakebite is one of the major causes of death and disability in the tropical countries [1]. The antidote [anti-snake venom serum (ASVS)] developed in 1894 by Calmette [2] remains the only therapeutic intervention despite having several limitations [3],[4],[5]. Before the development of ASVS, herbal antidote existed in nature, mentioned in age-old folk-traditional literature (Ayurveda, Unani, etc.) whose scientific validation began in the early 19th century [6]. An exhaustive research was done by Mhaskar and Caius [7] (1898-1928) at Haffkine Institute, Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on the herbs active against snake venom. They concluded that none of the herbs/herbal combination tested was found effective against snake venom. One of the major causes of the failure of Mhaskar and Caius was that the concept of dose-response relationship [LD50/MLD (median lethal dose)] was not established at that time. Pharmacological-toxicological methodologies were available from the early 19th century, and a new dimension of research venture was started with herbs-snake venom. Our group at Kolkata (1981-2018) has established the efficacy of the herbal extract/compound active against Cobra and Viper venoms in animal models [8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14], but an antidote could not be developed. In the present communication, some of the major constraints are discussed and analyzed for the future young researchers working on snake venom.

The starting material of this kind of research was the authentic snake venom, which was often not available in countries such as India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The term authentic means that (i) the snakes shall be captured from different parts (east, west, south and north) of the country and should be identified by a zoologist (taxonomist); (ii) age, sex, length and health status of the snakes should be recorded and kept at temperature-controlled serpentarium. Further, the snake from wild catch and snakes from captive breed should be kept separated because of venom qualities; (iii) the venom should be collected once in a month by a trained personnel in a sterile container with a record of the yield/snake and lyophilized immediately; (iv) lyophilized venom should be stored in amber-coloured screw-capped sterilized glass vials, labelled properly and stored in a cool temperature (8-15°C); and (v) biological testing (LD50/MLD in mice through intravenous, subcutaneous, intramuscular route) and biochemical properties (protein content, gel banding pattern, etc.) should be recorded. There is a need to establish National Snake Venom Bank (NSVB) for the above activity. The NSVB shall provide certificate of authentic venom for the bona fide buyers (for research), institute and industry (for ASVS production). The young researchers should be careful about the starting material and ...

Language: en


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