February 04, 2020
Each year around the world millions of people are bitten my snakes, and of these more than 90,000 die as a result of being bitten by a venomous snake. Bites by venomous snakes can be difficult to treat as snake venom is not always well understood and the method for creating antivenom hasn’t changed since the 19th century. Antivenom is currently created by ‘milking’ venom from a snake, a small amount of this venom is then injected into an animal, and the antibodies it produces in response to the venom are then collected and purified for medical use.
Researchers from the Hubrecht Institute hope to change that with a new discovery. The team has been able to artificially grow mini versions of snake venom glands in the laboratory, and these so called ‘organoids’ produce the toxins found in snake venom. By examining the cells of these organoids under the microscope the team was able to determine that specialized cells created different toxin components of the venom which then mix together to make the venom.
By successfully demonstrating that these lab grown venom glands can produce venom these researchers have brought us one step closer to being able to produce venom to create antivenom at a much faster rate. Not only this, but the venom produced by these lab grown organoids may lead to the discovery of valuable compounds in snake venom that could one day be used in novel medications.
Source: News Medical
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