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

The modern Mexican antivenin investigations were first developed by Lourival Possani, at the Biochemical laboratory of the UNAM’s Cellular Physiology Institute during middle seventies (Gaceta UNAM, 1979) Some years later the R&D group from the UNAM’s Biomedical Research Institute Molecular Biology Department, obtained the complete primary structure characterization of the Mexican Centruroides noxius and the Brazilian Tytus Scorpions toxins. Afterwards, now at the UNAM’s Biochemical Department of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (GE&BTC), the group formed by Possani, A. Alagon C., H. S. Guzman and A. N. Ramirez characterized the two toxins action mechanisms of Mexican Centruroides limpidus Scorpion from the Mexican states of Guerrero and Morelos which is the most dangerous species of all.
In 1991 the UNAM’s GE&BTC was attached covered to the UNAM’s BTI (Instituto de Biotecnologia) located in Cuernavaca Morelos and in 1995 Possani received the National Sciences and Arts Prize for his basic research conducting to the Scorpion’s venom action mode understanding, blocking the sodium and potassium channels conducting to the understanding of live cells ions conduction. (Calderon-Aranda et al., 1999 and Pintar et al., 1999). Considering this basic knowledge, the basic-applied scientist Alejandro Alagon Cano developed an advanced serum purification system called Fabotherapy.
The UNAM’R&D group has dedicated more than 30 years to scorpion venoms study obtaining national and international field experience. (Herrera 1997; Romero, 2007). They also have been able to investigate the dangerous Buthidae arachnids and other spiders from Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Africa and Turkey. According to taxonomical and medical statistical data, the Mexican dangerous spider species are light yellow colored; while against empiric suppositions black common spiders living abroad Mexico City are not dangerous for human beings, although, the most dangerous spider is black but it shows a red spot at its abdomen, it lives in Nayarit, a state of Mexico.
In the first decade of the current century UNAM’s scientist obtained the titles for the following patents result of their investigations: US2005065331 (A1)-2003-03-24 Recombinant immunogens for the generation of genus Centruroides antivenins, MMX PA04008435A (A) Inmunogeno y antiveneno contra el veneno de la arana violinista. BR PI0514809 (A) imunogeno e antiveneno contra veneno o veneno de aranha marrom. CL 22232006 (A) Proteina aislada y recombinante del veneno de arana Loxosteles bonetti, etc. US2011177078 (A) Immunogen and antivenin against violinist spider venom.
UNAM-Silanes/Bioclon Scientific-Technological Alliance
By the end of the last century, within a global vision, Laboratorios Silanes, a Mexican pharmaceutical laboratory specialized in diagnostic products showed interest about the R&D level UNAM’s antivenin technology and signed with them collaborating and licensing agreements for the technology transference. Since then the referred firm and UNAM celebrated and renewal collaboration agreements continuously. In 1990 the company decided to make an important investment and started Bioclon as their own R&D private Institute to scale the technology at an industrial level developing process of Alacramyn serum and other antivenins like those for vipers, spiders and bees. According to the investigation results from UNAM’s BTI and Bioclon applied research, they submitted in 2005 the widow and violinist spider antivenin to the clinic essay required before to be launched in the market.
The allied partner’s strategies have the following sequence: The basic research for all dangerous species antivenin is done by UNAM’s BTI after that applied research is done in conjunction by the BTI and Bioclon, including clinic essays. Subsequently Bioclon industrializes the products developed and finally the commercialization and the technology diffusion made by Bioclon and Silanes.
Nowadays Bioclon is producing one million units of Alacramyn per year and they expect to reach the production of three million pretty soon. During 2011 the price per unit was about $70.00 USD and the sales amount in 2007 was 100 million USD. The diverse Mexican antivenin products developed by UNAM-Bioclon alliance are sold today in Mexico, Central and South America. In all cases they developed specific antidotes for the local poisonous species.

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