Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

IISc develops Synthetic Antibody that Neutralizes Deadly Snake Venom


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Three-finger toxin (3FTx)

Mains level: Read the attached story


  • Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) in Bengaluru have successfully created a synthetic human antibody capable of neutralizing potent neurotoxins found in the venom of highly toxic snakes.

Synthetic Antibody against Snake Venom

  • Approach: The team utilized a method previously employed to screen antibodies against HIV and COVID-19 to synthesize the new venom-neutralizing antibody.
  • Targeted Region: The developed antibody targets a conserved region within the core of a major toxin called the three-finger toxin (3FTx) present in elapid venom.
  • Library of Antibodies: The team designed a library of artificial antibodies from humans displayed on yeast cell surfaces and screened them for binding to 3FTxs from different elapid snakes worldwide.
  • Effective Binding: After rigorous screening, one antibody emerged capable of binding strongly to various 3FTxs, displaying effectiveness across different elapid species.

Challenges with Current Anti-venom

  • Animal-Based Production: Existing anti-venom production involves injecting snake venom into equines and collecting antibodies from their blood, leading to therapeutically redundant antibodies due to exposure to various microorganisms.
  • Efficacy Concerns: Research indicates that less than 10% of anti-venom contains antibodies specifically targeting snake venom toxins, raising concerns about efficacy.

Animal Model Testing

  • Efficacy in Mice: Mice injected with a toxic 3FTx along with the antibody survived past the 24-hour observation window, while those given only the toxin succumbed within four hours.
  • Versatility: The antibody showed effectiveness against the venom of different elapid species, including the monocled cobra and black mamba, with nearly 15 times the potency of conventional products.
  • Delayed Administration: Crucially, administering the antibody after a time delay still successfully saved the mice, highlighting its potential for delayed treatment.

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