Cross-reactivity and neutralization of Indian King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) venom by polyvalent and monovalent antivenoms

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The venom of the largest venomous snake, the king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), is still out of league for the production of therapeutic polyvalent antivenom nor it is characterized immunologically in the Indian subcontinent. In the present study, the king cobra venom is comparatively studied for the cross-reactivity/reactivity and toxicity neutralization by the locally available equine therapeutic polyvalent BSV and VB antivenoms, and monovalent antivenom (OH-IgG) prepared in rabbit. None of the two therapeutic antivenoms procured from two different firms showed any signs of cross-reactivity in terms of antigen–antibody precipitin lines in immunodouble diffusion assay; however, a weak and an insignificant cross-reactivity pattern was observed in ELISA and Western blot studies. Further, both BSV and VB antivenoms failed to neutralize proteolytic, hyaluronidase and phospholipase activities as well as toxic properties such as edema, myotoxicity and lethality of the venom. As expected, OH-IgG showed strong reactivity in immunodouble diffusion, ELISA and in Western blot analysis and also neutralized both enzyme activities as well as the toxic properties of the venom. Thus, the study provides insight into the likely measures that are to be taken in cases of accidental king cobra bites for which the Indian subcontinent is still not prepared for.

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