If you get bitten by a venomous snake, there are medicines that can help, but these antivenins are specific to each species of snake. Researchers in the US are announcing that they’re in the early stages of developing a snakebite antidote that can fight 28 common venoms and be administered out in the field without the help of a doctor.
Through the idea of drug repositioning, a team led by Matt Lewin from the California Academy of Sciences focused on an enzyme called sPLA2, which is found in snake venom and is also produced by the human body during inflammation. After collecting and testing different compounds, one drug in particular stood out: varespladib, an sPLA2 inhibitor originally developed to tackle wound infections.
Lewin is an emergency medical doctor by trade, and wants to develop this drug to prevent some of the tens of thousands of deaths that happen due to snakebites every year. Learn more about this development here.