Science saving man’s best friend from deadly snakes

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Brown snake
Brown snake

Australia is home to 10 of the most venomous snakes in the world, with thousands of dogs being bitten each year.

But that number is set to fall significantly thanks to a new anti-venom developed by the CSIRO.

Although far fewer people die from snake bites today than they did several decades ago thanks to medical advances that have made anti-venoms for humans more readily available, our pets are still at risk as treatments can be expensive and aren’t always effective.

Until now. In collaboration with Padula Serums Pty Ltd, a small biotech company in regional Victoria, CSIRO scientists have produced an anti-venom to treat eastern brown and tiger snake bites.

Dr Andrew Padula of Padula Serums said that working with the CSIRO helped turn his idea into a reality.

“I’ve been working on anti-venom serums for dogs and cats for a while now but I really needed the expert equipment and skills of the CSIRO scientists to make the best product possible.”

According to Professor George Lovrecz from the CSIRO’s manufacturing team, this new process is much more effective that those currently on the market because it is distilled and concentrated to create a pure, fully-tested anti-venom ready to be injected into snake-bitten dogs.

“We used the latest technologies to make sure that the anti-venom is not only safe and effective but it’s also a lot cheaper to produce compared to existing products,” he said.

Once final testing has been completed and the anti-venom has been approved for sale by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, it will be available on the market.

This new treatment could also have applications for treating humans for snake bites and as an antidote to the tick toxin that causes paralysis. CSIRO scientists are also researching the possibility of using a similar approach to treat viruses such as Ebola, and are looking to partner with other biomedical companies to explore such applications further.

Small business looking to access research capability from the CSIRO or other Australian research institutions may be eligible for a grant through the CSIRO’s SMEconnect team.

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