Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. (BSV) on Tuesday announced its collaboration with the ‘Evolutionary Venomics Lab’, at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore to develop region-specific antivenoms snakebites in India.
According to health experts, snakebite remains a serious public health challenge in India. Currently, treatments are based on a single polyvalent antivenom designed for snakebites from the ‘big four’ snakes in the country.
“Recent research at the Evolutionary Venomics Lab has highlighted the alarming consequence of the inter and intra-species variation in venoms on the effectiveness of antivenom. The polyvalent antivenom inefficaciously neutralizes the venom from distinct populations of the ‘big four’ snakes, as well as many other local clinically important snake species. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of region-specific antivenom in the country,” the Biopharmaceutical company said in a statement on Tuesday.
This partnership aims at driving the antivenom development that will deliver efficient snakebite therapy to save lives, limbs, and livelihoods of those in need of the treatment, the company claims.
“We aim to partner with leading research institutes such as IISc to promote research in the neglected area of biodiscovery aspects of venom in India. It is our collective endeavor to widen access to snakebite treatment, and as BSV continues to innovate in India for India and the world, we are confident that effective interventions involving education and antivenom provision would reduce snakebite deaths not only in India but also in neighboring countries in South Asia and Afghanistan,” Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director & CEO, BSV said in a statement.
Earlier, BSV partnered with IISc to initiate a PCR-based risk assessment for various diseases in Equines, in line with the WHO, Anti Venom Guidelines 2010. This initiative made BSV the first Indian company to have worked towards risk control of infectious transmission and ensured viral safety of BSV’s equine plasma-derived products, it stated.
“Annually, over 58,000 deaths occur in India due to snakebites. In addition, four times this number suffer from permanent loss-of-function injuries, such as amputations. In collaboration with antivenom manufacturers, we hope to improve the effectiveness of existing antivenoms and antivenom manufacturing strategies to save the lives and livelihoods of India’s hundred thousand annual snakebite victims,” Dr. Kartik Sunagar who leads the Evolutionary Venomics Lab stated on Tuesday.