WHO recently categorized snakebite envenomation (again) into the Category A of the Neglected Tropical Diseases. Snakebites cause 125.000 deaths per year mainly in LMICs and four time this number of victims with permanent sequelae. Conventional plasma-derived snakebite antivenoms have existed for more than 120 years and have been instrumental in saving thousands of lives. However, both a need an opportunity exist for harnessing biotechnology and modern drug development approaches for developing novel Snakebite Antivenoms (SAV) with better efficacy, safety, and affordability.
The production costs for (equine) blood-derive immunoglobulins (Igs) is increasing in general, and treatment or prophylaxis with blood-derived Igs in LMICs is under pressure. This is not only the case for therapy against snakebite envenoming, but also for rabies, tetanus, and diphtheria prophylaxis. Therefore, the WHO convened a meeting to discuss ways to explore on how to replace of blood-derived Igs for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in 2017. UCAB is collaborating with scientists on facilitating the shift from traditional regional snake-based antiserum towards a global toxin-based antiserum on the long run.