The new chemical has come from the University of California, Irvine. It could be a game-changer given that most treatments for bites from deadly snakes require a slow intravenous infusion. Even with this treatments are available for only the most common of snakes. In addition, these treatments are hospital based and require the victim to be transported to a medical facility. It is due to these limitations that the motivation for the new development came from. Based on the latest available data, venomous animals resulted in 57,000 human deaths in 2013
. The most worrisome snakes are vipers, since these snakes have the most highly developed venom delivery apparatus. Here the venom gland is very large and is surrounded by the temporal muscle.
The chemical that has been developed has a broad-spectrum and a demonstrable ability to stop cell destruction across various snake species, as found on most continents. To develop the chemical, researchers synthesized a polymer nanogel material. The material binds to several key protein toxins found in snake venom (snake venoms contain contain more than 20 different compounds, composed of a variety of peptide toxins, including proteases). This prevents the protein toxins from bursting cell membranes. Many types of venom' lead to the rupturing of red blood cells.
The chemical is said by the researchers
to be very cheap to manufacturer and stable; it also has a long shelf-life. The new chemical, once commercialized, is likely to prove useful in remote areas and it can be carried by dog owners, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, to guard against the possibility of a snake bite. Although snake bites are rare, when they do occur the effects can be dangerous. Even when not fatal, serious snake bites can result in the loss of a limb.
The anti-venom research has been published in
the Journal of the American Chemical Society
. The research is in a paper titled "Engineering the Protein Corona of a Synthetic Polymer Nanoparticle for Broad-Spectrum Sequestration and Neutralization of Venomous Biomacromolecules."