Hands on Workshop on the Development of Snakebite Diagnostics

Department of Biosciences and Salim Habib Centre of Learning and Teaching, Barrett Hodgson University (BHU) has organized a three-day workshop with the collaboration of Fundacao Ezequiel Dias (FUNED), Brazil during . Dr. Luiz Guilherme Heneine from FUNED was the main Resource person in conducting this workshop. He is a recognized leader of the Venom and Toxins Research Group of Venomous and Immunology, addressing Applied Immunology, Bioprospecting of biological activity and Biotechnological Innovation, as a collaborator in research groups; Quality Control of Animal Products; He has international collaboration with the Center for Optics, Laser and Photonics at the University of Laval, Quebec (Canada), and national collaboration with the UFMG Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Departments of Fuel and Corrosion Materials for the development of biosensors; He was representative of the Ezequiel Dias Foundation at the Canada-Brazil Commission for cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation; participated in the Project for strengthening diagnostics and decentralized treatments for human health at the RMBH of the Secretariat of Science and Technology and Sebrae / MG, Brazil.

Dr. Syed Faraz, Assistant Professor from National Centre for Proteomics shared his experience of working on snakebites and remedies in Pakistan. Dr. Shaukat Ali, Principal College of Biotechnology, Dow University for Health Sciences highlighted the importance and need of effective Polyvalent antivenom antisera and its production to meet the requirement of this product for Pakistan and abroad. Dr. Aqeel Ahmad, Professor in Bioscience Department BHU highlighted the need and complications of available therapeutics.

Barrett Hodgson University (BHU) is a chartered, private, not-for-profit institution, established and financially supported by The Salim Habib Education Foundation. The Government of Sindh granted the charter to establish BHU on May 25, 2015. The University is located in Korangi Creek Industrial Village, spanning over 6 acres of lush green landscaping, a meditative environment and a purpose-built 5-storey academic block. The University has a fully equipped gymnasium which houses an indoor international standard swimming pool, basketball court, world class squash courts, volleyball court, football ground, health club and other recreational facilities.
BHU organizes workshops, seminars, symposia etc., to bring scholars, scientists, faculty and students closer to develop cooperation and collaboration and to contribute to bring a positive change in Pakistani society. During the current workshop more than 20 Teachers/ Researchers from various Universities/ Research Organizations of Sind Province, including University of Karachi, Federal Urdu University, Karachi, Jinnah University for Women, Karachi, Dow University for Health Sciences, Karachi, Center of Excellence of Science & Technology, Sindh University, Jamshoro and Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur participated in the Hands-on workshop on the development of snake-bite diagnostics.

The WHO estimates that about 5.4 million people are bitten by snakes every year, resulting in an estimated 1.8-2.7 million cases of envenoming and 130,000 deaths. Some 400,000 people end up with long-term disabilities such as blindness, disfigurement or amputation.

More than 3,000 species of snakes are found world-wide, however, only 5% snake species are reported venomous, and between 200 and 250 species are responsible for most of the global deaths, injuries and disabilities. In Pakistan 72 snake species are reported, only 14 marine and 12 terrestrial snake species are poisonous. Amongst the most poisonous snakes found in Pakistan, four — the cobra, the common krait, Russell’s viper and the saw-scaled viper are commonly responsible for snakebites and deaths.

In Pakistan around 40,000 people are reportedly bitten by snakes each year and 20% of these cases die. Snake bites are not very common in big cities of Pakistan; however, the incidences appear in rural areas during rainy seasons and become highest during floods in the Monsoon season. Since proper management of snake bite is unknown, haphazard treatment is offered to the affected. The management of snake bite starts from identification of species of snake to administration of proper dosage of anti-venom at appropriate time, along with supportive measures to reduce the mortality. Nevertheless, administering the wrong antivenom not only results in treatment failure but also causes severe allergic reaction or even a fatal anaphylactic shock.

The present workshop is designed to prepare venom adsorbents for making a species specific anti-venom antibody, and then compared their cross-reactivity of the adsorbed and non-adsorbed anti-venom by ELISA. Such training may help participants to develop appropriate diagnostic tests or can use to prepare species specific therapy to reduce any complication and cost of therapy, but with high efficacy of treatment. Not only this, but all participants got an exposure and training to develop different types of test based on the training.

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