The therapy of snakebite envenomation has been based on the parenteral administration of animal-derived antivenoms. Despite the success of this treatment at reducing the impact of snakebite mortality and morbidity, mostly due to their capacity to neutralize systemically- acting toxins, antivenoms are of relatively low efficacy in the prevention of venom-induced local tissue damage, which often leads to permanent disability. The issue of safety also remains a concern, particularly for some antivenoms which induce a relatively high incidence of adverse reactions. Consequently, there is a need to improve the therapy of snakebite envenomations on the following lines: (a) the technologies to produce antivenoms require improvements aimed at obtaining more refined preparations of higher efficacy and safety, while being affordable for the public health systems of developing countries. (b) The growing knowledge on the biochemistry and toxicology of snake venoms should pave the way for the identification of natural and synthetic inhibitors of venom toxins, particularly of those involved in local tissue pathology. Such inhibitors might become a highly effective therapeutic tool for the abrogation of venominduced local tissue damage. (c) A better knowledge of the inflammatory events secondary to venom actions may open the possibility of modulating such response, in order to prevent further tissue damage and to promote successful tissue repair and regeneration. A global partnership, involving many participants and combining scientific, technological and public health actions, is required to achieve a leap forward in the treatment of snakebite envenomations world-wide.
Keywords: Snake venom, antivenom, metalloproteinase inhibitors, phospholipase A2 inhibitors, necrosis, hemorrhage, inflammation
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