Can science rob snakes of their deadliest weapon?

by Usha Lee McFarling
STAT, March 21, 2017

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Worldwide, snakebites kill 100,000 people a year and maim or cripple 400,000, mostly in India, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Now, chemists at University of California, Irvine, have created a snake venom–neutralizing compound that could be developed into a universal antidote. Other scientists are using technologies such as nanoparticles and antibodies to develop new treatments. Unfortunately, these therapies are decades away from readiness. Though antivenoms do exist, they usually have serious side effects and are unavailable or unaffordable for the poor and people in rural areas. Several pharmaceutical giants have recently dropped antivenoms because the drugs have proven unprofitable.

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