July 19, 2024, 2:29 am

Nur Uddin Alamgir

2024-07-07 13:39:47 BdST

Russell’s viper: Local anti-venom expected by year-end

With some 60% progress, the researchers carrying out maiden research on snake venom in the country are optimistic about developing an antibody for Russell’s viper venom by the end of this year.

A team of 15 members from various organisations, including Chattogram Medical College (CMC), Chittagong University (CU), the Toxicology Society of Bangladesh, and Goethe University of Germany, are striving to develop the antidote against the Russell’s viper at the Venom Research Centre in Chattogram.

The research that was supposed to be completed in 2023 is now in the final stage.

It was initiated in March 2018 under a project of the Non-Communicable Disease Control (NCDC) programme of the Directorate General of Health Services.

The research work aimed at producing anti-venom for native species of venomous snakes like Russell’s viper, cobra, and krait in order to treat snakebite patients more effectively.

According to the sources concerned, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2017 adopted a resolution that snakebite patients would have to be treated with anti-venoms produced in the native country.

It prompted the government to initiate the project, they said. The Centre Coordinator and CMC Medicine Department Assistant Professor Dr Abdullah Abu Sayeed said they have successfully completed some initial stages of the unique research.

“We have injected the venom of Russell’s viper into the bodies of chickens and goats and collected the antibodies. We are now working on purifying and analysing the effectiveness of the antibodies,” he stated.

“If everything goes well, we are hopeful to have the anti-venom of Russell’s viper at the end of this year. The anti-venom will help neutralise the venom fully,” said the researcher.

“As the production of anti-venom is a pharmaceutical procedure, we would provide the findings for the production of the anti-venom in Bangladesh,” he mentioned.

Dr Abdullah said, “The hospitals in Bangladesh usually use the imported Indian polyvalent anti-venom for the snakebite patients against the bites of Russell’s Viper, cobra and krait. However, as the properties of venom of the same species of snake have differences on the basis of geological locations, the imported venom that costs $100 to $300 per patient may not work properly for the bites of native snakes.”

To this end, he informed, the WHO recommends producing anti-venom from the native venomous snakes to make the treatment of snakebite patients more effective.

Dr Abdullah said that the death rate in bites by Russell’s viper is high in Bangladesh, and its treatment requires some supporting components like ICU and dialysis for multi-organ involvement.

“We started the research with Russell’s viper. If we get a positive result, then we will proceed with the cobra, krait, and others,” he added.

The Venom Research Centre under the Medicine Department of CMC was developed at an abandoned building beside the Dental Unit of the Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH) in the port city.

The centre, which started operation with only four collected snakes, now has a total of 350 snakes of 10 venomous species.

According to a survey conducted in 2018, a total of 105 species of snakes, including 33 venomous ones, were found in Bangladesh. Among the venomous ones, 16 are marine snakes, and out of the rest 17 species, 10 are available at the Venom Research Centre, said Mizanur Rahman, research associate at the centre.

There are some 50 Russell’s vipers and over 30 green pit vipers at the centre, said Mizanur.

Describing the procedures of the research, the associate said they rear the snakes at the centre and collect venom from them following a routine.

They injected Russell’s viper’s venom into chickens and goats at the Animal Immunisation Lab at the Zoology Department of Chittagong University earlier.

The developed antibodies have also been collected, and analysis is going on with them, said Mizanur.

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