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Easing snakebite toxicity


Snakebite is a serious health issue, particularly in tropical and subtropical countries. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 5 million people are bitten by snakes each year. Snakebite envenomation can cause a range of toxic effects, including disability and death. Whilst antivenoms are effective in preventing death, researchers continue to search for therapies that help address local tissue damage.

A recent in vitro study explored the potential of high purity fucoidan, manufactured by Marinova, to block toxicity effects of snake venom. The study utilised two different fucoidan extracts derived from two different species of brown seaweed, Fucus vesiculosus and Undaria pinnatifida. The fucoidans were assessed against the toxic activities (proteolytic, plasma or fibrinogen clotting, and PLA2 activities) of the venom of three different species of pit vipers of the genus Bothrops. Species within the Bothrops genus are the most medically relevant for snakebite incidents in South America.  

The results showed that both fucoidan extracts inhibited toxic activities caused by all three different snake species. In particular, both fucoidan extracts inhibited toxic activity caused by the venom of the species Bathrops neuwiedi – a highly venomous species – more efficiently. Researchers noted that the potential use of fucoidan for antivenom purposes warrants further investigation.

The full paper, ‘Effect of seaweed-derived fucoidans from Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus on coagulant, proteolytic, and phospholipase A2 activities of snake Bothrops jararaca, B. jararacussu, and B. neuwiedi venom’ was published in the journal Toxins as part of the Special Issue Snake Venom: Toxicology and Associated Countermeasures.


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