The Project
Snakebite, the Facts
Our Plan
How it Works
Snakebite affects millions of people worldwide. Find out who is most affected and the consequences of snakebite.
We want to to find a better way to treat victims of envenomation. Follow this link to find out what steps we plan to take to achieve this.
Interested in the science behind our proposed treatment? Find out more about it on this page.
For more in-depth information, with references, please read our articles (For private use only):
More coming soon!
Snakebite, the Facts
  • Snakebites happen to up to 5.5 Million people every year.
  • Up to 600,000 die or lose a limb, mostly poor farm workers and children.  
  • The current treatment has a number of problems and it is not available to many of the people who need it.
Fact: Some snakes can inject over 1000mg of venom in one bite.
Venom. Venomous snakes carry venom which they can inject into their victim. Venom is a concoction of toxic peptides that work in various ways to cause damage. They can affect blood clotting, damage nerves and destroy tissue. 
 
Bacteria. A bite from any snake poses the risk of bacterial infection. A snake's mouth contains the same type of bacteria that you would find in a toilet. 
 
Bacterial infection can lead to gangrene, in serious cases the infected limb may have to be amputated. Infection may also lead to sepsis and death. 

Fact: Snake venom can contain up to 200 different toxins
Fact: Kits that "suck" venom from the bite site are usually ineffective
1. First Aid  
After receiving a snakebite from a suspected venomous snake, the current first aid practice is to apply a compression bandage to the affected area and identify the snake so that the proper medical treatment can be given at a hospital. 
 
2. Antibiotics  
Since the mouth of a snake carries bacteria that could lead to sepsis, antibiotics are given to prevent infection. 
 
3. Fasciotomy Surgery  
Envenomation by a snake can lead to compartment syndrome, the loss of circulation to tissues or muscles. Fasciotomy surgery is required to treat acute compartment syndrome. 
 
This surgery alone can sometimes lead to nerve damage.  

 
4. Debridement surgery  
Snake venom can be extremely toxic to tissues and in cases where tissues have died, become damaged or infected, debridement surgery is required to remove this tissue. 
 
Surgical intervention is sometimes carried out unnecessarily, resulting in more damage than would have been otherwise caused. 

 
5. IgG antivenom  
IgG antivenom can be given to neutralise snake venom. Antivenom works by binding to venom peptides, deactivating the toxic components of venom. 
 
If the correct antivenom is given it can save lives, however, antivenom does not always work, it is expensive and has been found to cause allergic reactions in up to 75% of cases.  
 
Snake venom can be so variable, that even if the correct snake is identified, the antivenom which was made specifically for that snake venom may not work. 

Fact: Many medical texts recommend killing the snake for identification
Fact: Debridement surgery can permenantly and severly reduce mobility and can be just as debilitating as an amputation.
Fact: Each vial of antivenom can only neutralise 8-12mg of venom.
Envenomation by a snake can result in:
  • A full recovery. 
  • Scarring. 
  • Permanent injury to the affected limb. 
  • Amputation, this is the outcome for up to 400,000 people each year. 
  • Death, the worst outcome, which effects up to 200,000 people each year. 

Fact: Up to 116 vials of antivenom were reportedly used for a single case.
Antivenom is produced by injecting an animal, such as a horse, with small doses of venom. The animal will produce antibodies to neutralise the venom. Blood is then taken from the animal every month and the antibodies harvested. There is a risk of viral contamination. 
 
Antivenom can cost up to US$20,000 per vial. Up to 20 vials can be required to treat an envenomation by a snake. 

Fact: The coastal taipan carries the deadliest venom
Snakes are found across the lands and in the oceans all over the world, except Antarctica, but the most venomous snakebites occur in Asia and Africa. Most of the people who are affected are farmers and children who live in rural areas. Many of these people live far from a hospital and cannot reach a medical facility to receive timely treatment. 
The number of snake envenomings per year are stated according to geographical region
Our Goal  

We believe the treatment for envenomation can be better, so we have started this project to try and develop a new treatment for this neglected disease.
 
 

Our Plan
We want to produce a product that people can conveniently carry on them and use as a first aid treatment that is even safe for children. We want people, regardless of wealth, to feel protected from all known venomous snakes and to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying life, giving individuals the power to stop this WHO neglected tropical disease. We hope that the knowledge gained from this research can also be adapted for veterinary use and for treatment of envenomation by other animals such as jellyfish, scorpions, bees, wasps and spiders.

Our aims for our product are summarised in the table below:
* These aims and anticipations for our product are based off what we have found from our initial literature research.

1. Monovalent antivenom is common, however, polyvalent IgG antivenom serums, which are generally more expensive, are also in use. 

2. The high veterinary cost of IgG antivenom serum may prevent farmers and individuals from treating an animal. 

3. Due to up to 75% of individuals being at risk of an allergic reaction to IgG serum, it is highly recommended to only administer IgG antivenoms in a properly equipped medical facility that can treat acute anaphylactic shock.
We are currently at the preliminary testing stage and are doing our best to push this research forward. However, we still have far to go and have put things into perspective using the image below. 
How Our Treatment Works
Summary: 



Components of snake venom work in different ways to cause damage to tissues.

Some components are neurotoxic polypeptides which affect nerves and neurotransmitters, cardiotoxins which target the heart tissue and phospholipases, proteases and other components which damage red blood cells and cause necrosis.  

There are also other venom components such as myotoxins which affect muscles, haemorrhagins which cause bleeding and other types of toxins in snake venom which act on other parts of the body. 

Current IgG (immunoglobulin gamma) antivenoms use antibodies, which are specific to an antigen.

This would be like a key that can only fit one lock. Antibodies are generated to bind to one specific antigen (such as a particular type of venom peptide), as such, an antibody that can bind to peptides in one type of venom, may not be able to bind to peptides in a different type of snake venom.
The IgG antivenom binds specifically to the antigen
Research has shown that it is possible to neutralise venom peptides with certain natural compounds.

These compounds can effectively bind to venom peptides, cleave them or attach to the metal ion in a venom peptide, rendering them harmless.  

The ATIS Snakebite Appeal aims to take this research further and develop a treatment for envenomation which is cheaper and more reliable than IgG antivenom. 
Venom components can be neutralised