Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville's Natural Toxins Research Center receives grant to test, research new snake antivenom

KINGSVILLE - July 06, 2006

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

In 2008, the only coral snake antivenom currently available in the United States will be discontinued by its manufacturer, creating an urgent need for a viable alternate antivenom source.

To answer the need, Dr. Elda Sánchez of the Natural Toxins Research Center (NTRC) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has been awarded a $30,000 grant to research and test the alternative coral snake antivenom Coralmyn ®. Bioclon, the Mexican pharmaceutical company that manufactures Coralmyn ®, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals are joint grantors of the award.

For the next six months, the antivenom’s effectiveness against Texas and Eastern coral snakes will be tested at the NTRC facilities on the A&M-Kingsville campus.

Coral snakes are in the family of domestic poisonous snakes known as Elapidae and are found chiefly in the Southern states. Related to the dangerous Asian cobras and kraits, coral snakes have small mouths and short teeth.

According to Sánchez, coral snakes are very prevalent throughout Texas, noting that the NTRC received two coral snakes just last week found in Kingsville and the Gregory-Portland area. Though the incidence of snakebite from a coral snake is rare in the United States according to the Food and Drug Administration, the venom of the coral snake has a high abundance of neurotoxins that can cause respiratory paralysis. Left untreated, said Sánchez, it will result in death. Antivenom is the only effective treatment for poisonous snakebites, making the need for a readily available coral snake antivenom acute.

The Bioclon/Wyeth Pharmaceuticals grant is the first to be funded for Sánchez, who serves as assistant director of the NTRC. She received her Ph.D. in 2004 and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at A&M-Kingsville.

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