BSV partners Indian Institute of Science for research on next-gen snakebite therapy

Supports research of Antibodies & Antivenom development at the IISc Evolutionary Venomics Laboratory facility

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New Delhi: Bharat Serums and Vaccines (BSV), a leading biopharmaceutical company in India, has announced a meaningful collaboration with the ‘Evolutionary Venomics Lab’, at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore to develop region-specific antivenoms, thereby, pioneering next-generation snakebite therapy.
Snakebite remains a serious public health challenge.  Currently, treatments are based on a single polyvalent antivenom designed for snakebites from the ‘big four’ snakes in the country. Recent research at the Evolutionary Venomics Lab has highlighted the alarming consequence of the inter and intra-species variation in venoms on the effectiveness of antivenom. The polyvalent antivenom inefficaciously neutralizes the venom from distinct populations of the ‘big four’ snakes, as well many other local clinically important snake species. Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of region-specific antivenom in the country.  This partnership aims at driving the antivenom development that will deliver efficient snakebite therapy to save lives, limbs, and livelihoods of those in need of the treatment.
Speaking about the collaboration, Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director & CEO, BSV said, “We aim to partner with leading research institutes such as IISc to promote research in the neglected area of biodiscovery aspects of venom in India.  It is our collective endeavor to widen access to snakebite treatment, and as BSV continues to innovate in India for India and the world, we are confident that effective interventions involving education and antivenom provision would reduce snakebite deaths not only in India but also neighboring countries in South Asia and Afghanistan.”
Dr Aldon Fernandes, Vice President-Equine, BSV, added, “This partnership with IISc and the antivenom development at the Evolutionary Venomics Laboratory facility will play a major role in ushering snakebite therapies of the future while assessing several lifesaving anti-venoms, testing Indian anti-venoms, and most importantly driving anti-venom strategies that aim to reduce the burden of snakebite in the country.”
Dr Kartik Sunagar who leads the Evolutionary Venomics Lab stated, “Annually, over 58,000 deaths occur in India due to snakebites. In addition, four times this number suffer from permanent loss-of-function injuries, such as amputations.  In collaboration with antivenom manufacturers, we hope to improve the effectiveness of existing antivenoms and antivenom manufacturing strategies to save the lives and livelihoods of India’s hundred thousand annual snakebite victims.”
In the past, BSV has partnered with IISc to initiate a PCR based risk assessment for various disease in Equines, in line with the WHO, Anti Venom Guidelines 2010. This initiative made BSV the first Indian company to have worked towards risk control of infectious transmission and ensured viral safety of BSV’s equine plasma derived products.