A Scorpion’s Poison Antivenin R&D+i Project Case from a Mexican Public University – Introduction

A Scorpion’s Poison Antivenin R&D+i Project Case from a Mexican Public University - IntroductionAs Bawaskar & Bawaskar pointed out, scorpion sting embittering is a potentially lethal and a particularly dangerous condition. It is a life-threatening emergency and a common public health problem at many regions of the world, particularly in children of developing countries. Developing severe cardiac, respiratory, neurological and cardiac complications are a great risk in sting injured children.
Some scorpion’s venom variety is able to cause dramatic cardiovascular and electrocardiographic changes related to heart stimulation by autonomous nervous system. Gonzalez, Roberto et al., studied 722 patients that suffered scorpion’s sting, founding electrocardiographic changes like first degree atrioventricular block, intraventricular condition disturbances, ventricular repolarization changes and arrhythmias. A major number of patients could normally die unless they receive prompt therapeutic intervention.
Due to its geography characteristics, there are many poisonous animals in Mexico dangerous to human life like spiders, snakes, bees and scorpions among others. Any insect, arachnid or animal’s venom has hundreds of different chemical components; the most important of them are the peptic toxins or toxins that show an interesting characteristic: they are specific to animal species.
According to Possani, there are eight dangerous scorpion species in Mexico, distributed among the Pacific Ocean states, Jalisco, Morelos, Guerrero, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Puebla, Durango, Oaxaca and the State of Mexico. Existing species in other states and geographical areas are less dangerous indeed, nevertheless when a scorpion case happens within the known hazardous geographical areas species; it must be attended by the medical service using an antivenin injections treatment. A patient usually requires between 10 to 50 antivenin serum doses depending its severity. The total number of humans presenting scorpion pickets abroad the country was 220,000 in 2002.
Vega-Franco noted that the first international South America research experiences were related to the production of hyper-immune antivenin serum at the Butantan Institute of Sao Paulo in Brazil motivated Carlos de la Pena and Isauro Venzor to begin studying the use of the first generation serum in 1926 against scorpion stings at the city of Durango, Mexico. This first generation crude serum contents a great quantity of antigen substances responsible for many patients’ adverse reactions producing death in some cases for allergenic reactions. (Tay et al, 2004). In Europe basic R&D antivenin works were done at the well known French Pasteur Institute which abandoned its leadership on poison animal’s antivenin R&D after the Second World War. This presented a clear R&D global commercial opportunity for other worldwide organizations.
The antivenin serum is prepared using venom from three dangerous species, inoculating horses with increasing doses until they generate neutralizing antibodies against the venom toxins. The serum of the immunized horses is preparing to be used by humans safely. In Mexico the use of second generation antivenin was performed around the last century fifties but the serum was not pure enough. Today, the antibodies are processed for purification eliminating strange proteins from it. Now a days we have got the third generation serum characterized by the use of special enzymes on the immunoglobulins permitting the product be packet in bottles as a simple white powder. The commercial name of this product is Alacramyn* and it was developed by R&D teams from the UNAM’s Biotechnology Institute (Instituto de Biotecnologia de la UNAM) (BTI) located in the Autonomic Morelos University (Universidad Autonoma de Morelos) campus.

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