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Researchers Uncover a Strategy for Efficient preparation of genus-specific diagnostic antibodies for snakebites

There are at least 768 species of venomous snakes in the world. As said by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, ‘Snakebite is the most important tropical disease you’ve never heard of’. The number of people bitten by snakes in the world is 1.8-2.7 million every year, causing more than 125,000 deaths. In China, 200,000-400,000 people are bitten by snakes every year, resulting in nearly 10,000 deaths.

In addition, a large proportion of snake injured patients have lifelong disability, which causes serious family burden and is a major factor leading to rural poverty caused by disease. In 2017, the World Health Organization listed snakebite as first of prioritized Neglected Tropical Diseases (

 Efficient and accurate determination of snake species which bite patient is the key to the treatment of snakebite. However, due to the complexity of snake venom components and the high similarity of snake venoms among species, it is very difficult to diagnose snakebite in time and efficiently. So far, there are few reliable diagnostic methods for snake genus/species-specific identification.

A research team led by Prof. LAI Ren from Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences combined with multi-omics data and analyzed the specificity, immunogenicity and spatial accessibility of venom components of most poisonous snakes (such as T. stejnegeri, P. mucrosquamatus, etc.) in China, put forward a new and efficient development strategy of snakebite diagnostic antibody. 

In this work, a strategy was proposed out for the efficient preparation of genus-specific diagnostic antibodies for snakebites by researchers.

 Data mining and multi-omics analysis of snake venom glands were performed to obtain information on proteins in different snake venoms and select potential antigens, which are highly abundant proteins containing ideal antigenic epitopes in various genera.

Antigenic epitope peptide fragments, whose immunogenicity, specificity, and spatial accessibility are validated and verified, and natural venomous proteins containing the antigenic epitopes are used for the preparation of antibodies.

The antibodies were used for the establishment of double-antibody sandwich ELISA to identify and verify venoms from different snakes.

Based on the strategy, diagnostic antibodies against the Trimeresurus and Protobothrops genera were successfully developed.

The Trimeresurus and Protobothrops genera are a sister clade to the New World pit vipers and belong to the top 10 venomous snakes in China. Most of them are distributed in South China and resulted in hundred thousands of snakebites each year in China, with the most clinical significance.


Fig. 1  a and b are images of T. stejnegeri and P. mucrosquamatus, respectively. The genus-specific antigenic peptides in structures of PLA2 (phospholipase A2) and SVMP (snake venom metalloproteinase TM-3) of T. stejnegeri and P. mucrosquamatus were indicated by red and blue, respectively (c and d). The diagnostic antibodies pairs against T. stejnegeri and P. mucrosquamatu was successfully developed, and were used to test the venom of T. stejnegeri, D. r. siamensis, D. acutus, N. atra, and P. mucrosquamatus (e and f).



(By LONG Chengbo, Editor: YANG Yingrun)




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