What are the applications of Antivenom?

Ranging from Snakes to frogs, venomous animals are prevalent all throughout the animal kingdom. The composition of the venomous mixture depends on each type of animal. Of all venomous species, the most studied are snakes, scorpions, spiders, jellyfish, and cone shells. The venom of these animals is composed of mainly proteins and peptides (short chains of amino acids linked by peptide bonds). 

Image result for peptide bonds
This is a picture of a peptide

Bites/stings from venomous animals can cause severe effects such as nausea, drowsiness, and hallucinations. In extreme cases death can ensue a bite. Thus, scientists are constantly looking for ways to treat wounds caused by poisonous animals. To date the most successful and widely used treatment revolves around the use of antivenom. Currently the FDA has approved six types of antivenom that can be used to counteract the effects of a venomous bite/sting. Once such antivenom is Captopril, a antivenom based from the toxins of pit vipers.

Image result for captopril

Aside from treating bites/stings antivenom can be applied to a plethora of problems. For example, antivenom can be used as a pain reliever, thus reducing the amount of opioids (highly addictive forms of pain management) that doctors need to prescribe. The use of antivenom as a pain killer is a viable solution in the united states. Chronic pain (categorized as pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks) impacts approximately 60 million americans. There are currently nine antivenom “therapeutic agents” that are currently being tested in clinical trials.

Image result for chronic pain

There are many uses for antivenom that are currently practiced and there are many more that are yet to be discovered. Hopefully in the future we will be able to unlock the full potential of antivenom for medicinal purposes.-Post Written By: Yash Banga




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