Mexican antivenom used in seven African countries

The antivenom is effective against the venom of 90% of snake species in that continent
Courtesy of AMC
Mexico City
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Dr. Alejandro Alagón Cano, from the Institute of Biotechnology (IBt) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), joined the International Antivenom Alliance for Africa five years ago. As a result of his research and that of his collaborators, he developed an antivenom that is currently used in seven countries in the African continent.

The International Antivenom Alliance for Africa, formed by the African Society of Venomology and the University of Arizona's Institute of Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response, has as its main objective to address the lack of antivenoms for the treatment of snake bites in that region of the world.

The participation of Alagón Cano and his team in this alliance consisted of establishing what venoms to use in order to obtain an efficient antivenom to treat poisoning by the bites of different snakes. Some snake venoms are similar in composition, explained Dr. Alagon, and this allows one single antivenom to neutralize different venoms.

The biochemist, doctor in Medicine and member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, explained how the Mexican antivenom, used in seven African countries and effective against the venom of 90% of the continent's snake species, was created. As a result of a hyper-immune plasma produced by horses injected with increasing doses of venom or a mixture of venoms, which contain the antibodies that are the basis of antivenoms.

Information released by the international organization Doctors Without Borders indicate that every year about five million people are bitten by snakes; out of these, 125 thousand people die and 400 thousand are permanently disabled or disfigured.


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