Characterization of a new polyvalent antivenom (Antivipmyn® Africa) against African vipers and elapids

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Abstract

As a response to the antivenom shortage in Sub-Saharan Africa, evident for well over a decade, we developed a new polyvalent anti-ophidian antivenom (Antivipmyn® Africa) designed for use in the region. We report a detailed characterization of its biochemical composition (protein content and profiling by size-exclusion chromatography and electrophoresis) as well as the specific and para-specific neutralization potencies (as median effective dose in the mouse lethality test). Additionally, we studied the neutralization of hemorrhagic, anti-hemostatic and necrotic activities of Echis ocellatus venom, responsible for a majority of severe envenomations in the continent according to existing epidemiological data. The antivenom is currently under production and has already been employed in the field in a pragmatic Phase III clinical trial in the Republic of Benin. It is a purified lyophilized polyvalent equine F(ab′)2-based product obtained by immunization with the venoms of eleven species of African snakes of the Genera Echis, Bitis, Naja and Dendroaspis. The criteria for its design are discussed, particularly in terms of the implementation of realistic public health policies targeting mostly rural populations in the continent.

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