Development of IgY antibodies against anti-snake toxins endowed with highly lethal neutralizing activity

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Abstract

Snakebite envenoming is a major neglected disease related to poverty in developing countries. Treatment involves the administration of a specific antivenom serum and auxiliary therapies, if necessary. The improvement of antibodies is of great importance for the technological advancement of antivenom therapy and to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this medical burden. In the present study, adult hens were immunized nine times with 20 μg of B. arietans or C. d. terrificus venoms at three-week intervals between immunizations. Developing antibodies presented increasing avidity and affinity to antigenic toxin epitopes along immunization, attaining a plateau after the seventh immunization. Pooled egg yolk-purified IgY antivenom antibodies, subjected to in vitro–in vivo lethality assay using Swiss adult mice, exhibited potent venom lethal neutralizing activity. Taken together, chickens under the described immunization schedule were considered alternative candidates for antivenom production. Lower maintenance costs, a simple antibody manufacturing process and immunization suffering restrictions are additional advantages.

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