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Research
Snake antivenom trial
  1. Fiona Bolton,
  2. Nicholas Casewell and
  3. Ibrahim Al-Abdulla
  1. MicroPharm,Station Road, Industrial Estate, Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire SA38 9BY
  1. e-mail: fiona.bolton{at}micropharm.co.uk

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WE would like to invite veterinary practitioners to take part in a clinical trial of Europe's first dedicated veterinary snake antivenom, ViperaVet. This is directed against the venom of four medically important Vipera species found throughout western Europe, including the adder (Vipera berus), Britain's only native venomous snake.

Between September 1985 and December 2010 the Veterinary Poisons Information Service received 985 telephone inquiries concerning canine adder bites (Sutton and others 2011) and it is likely that the incidence is much higher than this due to non-reporting. The current ‘best practice’ recommendations are that victims that exhibit rapid progression of localised oedema, systemic signs of envenoming or have facial bites be given specific antivenom (Bates and Warrell 2013). Supplies of the human European viper antivenom (Zagreb) for veterinary use have become increasingly scarce, and it has been reported that it will shortly become unavailable since the manufacturer has ceased production. With the impending start of the ‘biting season’ in the UK, there is an urgent need for a readily available veterinary product. To this end MicroPharm has begun manufacturing ViperaVet, with treatment underway in a Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD)- approved clinical trial in dogs.

This antivenom consists of antibody fragments purified from ovine antisera directed against four species of Vipera venom. It has undergone rigorous tests of purity, binding efficacy, potency in mice and safety in healthy dogs. It has shown great promise, both with regard to safety and efficacy, in the few patients to which it has been administered to date.

Participants in the trial will be provided with antivenom free of charge and will be remunerated for their time on return of a comprehensive clinical questionnaire. Those wishing to be included in the trial or who would like more information should contact the trial coordinator, Fiona Bolton.

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