The Race Against Time: Making Antivenom for Chandrabora Snake in Bangladesh


Bangladesh, a land of lush greenery and unique wildlife, is home to a creature that instills fear in the hearts of many - the deadly Chandrabora snake, also known as Russell's Viper. The intensity of its venom has proven fatal, leading to several deaths in the northwestern regions and the district and Char areas along the banks of the Padma River. Unfortunately, there has been no 100% effective antidote available in the country, leaving countless lives at risk. However, a glimmer of hope shines on the horizon as the Venom Research Center (VRC) Bangladesh and the Animal Immunization Lab embark on a groundbreaking mission to create antivenom for this lethal serpent.

The Need for a Specific Antivenom

Making Antivenom for Chandrabora Snake

Bangladesh, under the non-communicable disease control program of the Department of Health, for the first time, took up the ambitious project of snake venom production in the country. Launched in March 2018, this crucial initiative seeks to address the pressing issue of snakebites, particularly those inflicted by the deadly Chandrabora snake.

The project's research program is being conducted at the prestigious Venom Research Center of the Medicine Department of Chittagong Medical College. This initiative also boasts collaboration with esteemed institutions and organizations, including the Department of Zoology of Chittagong University, Toxicology Society of Bangladesh, and researchers and experts from Goethe University in Germany, demonstrating a collective effort to combat the menace of Chandrabora snakebites.

Chandrabora, or Russell's Viper, is responsible for a significant portion of snakebite cases in India and Sri Lanka. In recent years, the number of these snakes and their bites has been on the rise in Bangladesh. Found in 17 out of the country's 64 districts, the northern and northwestern regions are particularly prone to encounters with this venomous species.

When attacked by a Chandrabora snake, victims experience the effects of three types of venom, leading to a range of severe physical symptoms, including limb loss, blood clots, nerve damage, paralysis, and kidney damage. The snake's venom is notably different from that of Indian snakes, necessitating a specific antidote tailored to local snakes.

The Quest for an Effective Antivenom

Creating antivenom is a painstaking and time-consuming process, with a history that spans almost a century. Bangladesh has been relying on antivenom made against the venom of four snake species in India, which may not offer optimal results against the venom of local snakes. Thus, the urgent need to develop a country-specific antivenom that can effectively neutralize the deadly venom of Chandrabora snakes.

The Venom Research Center, under the leadership of Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Anirudh Ghosh, has taken up the challenge of producing antivenom for Chandrabora snakes for the first time. A dedicated laboratory has been established at Chittagong University to support this critical endeavor.

The Complexities of Antivenom Development

The process of creating antivenom begins by introducing a specific amount of Chandrabora venom into the bodies of certain animals, leading them to produce antibodies in response. The next step involves collecting the serum from these animals, which contains the much-needed antivenom. However, this process is not without its challenges. The structural characteristics of the venom can vary in different geographical areas, rendering the imported antivenom from India less effective against the local snake's venom.

Time is of the essence in the quest to develop an effective antivenom for Chandrabora snakebites. With the number of snake encounters on the rise and lives hanging in the balance, the researchers' efforts at the Venom Research Center and Animal Immunization Lab are both commendable and urgent.

The success of this endeavor would mark a milestone for Bangladesh, providing a ray of hope for countless individuals residing in high-risk areas. The lives of those at the mercy of this deadly serpent could be spared, and communities could be shielded from the devastating consequences of snakebites.

The efforts to produce antivenom for the Chandrabora snake in Bangladesh represent a race against time, with countless lives on the line. The government's proactive approach and collaboration with various institutions and experts showcase the nation's determination to combat this deadly threat.

As we eagerly await the results of the groundbreaking study, we keep our hopes high that this life-saving antivenom will soon become a reality. Once accomplished, it will not only serve as a testament to scientific advancement but also stand as a shining beacon of hope for the people of Bangladesh, providing protection against one of the deadliest creatures known to man.

[This Article is reproduced with abundant inputs from an Article Published in The Business Standard,Bangladesh.]

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