Anti-Venom Venture – University of Copenhagen

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Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology > Research > Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology > EpiDiscovery Group > Anti-Venom Venture

Anti-Venom Venture

Anti-venom

What is the Anti-Venom Venture Project?

The scope of the AntiVenom Venture project is – using phage display technology – to identify, design and develop inhibitor candidates that may be used in the development of antivenoms.
The working hypothesis is that it is possible to develop modern, biotechnology-based antidotes to snake venom that do not have the severe side effects of current antivenoms derived from animals. The scientific basis for this hypothesis lies in the fact that animal-derived proteins (including antivenoms/antisera) can be immunogenic towards the human body, whereas humanised antibodies do not have this drawback.

"The most noteworthy difference between medicine and poison is the dose.

Professor Mikael Begtrup

We are also investigating venomous snakes to look for better treatments for disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
We believe that the very proteins that make snake venom so deadly may – in the right amounts or with the right modifications –provide healing for millions of snake bite victims.

As crazy as it sounds, drugs based on snake venom proteins are on the market and are used to prevent heart attacks. An example is Eptifibatide, a cyclic heptapeptide that is a modified rattlesnake venom protein. This drug has been used since 1998 to treat people suffering minor heart attacks or those with chest pain indicating they are likely to suffer a heart attack.