Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Snake Antivenom Saves Man’s Best Friend

Thousands of dogs are bitten by venomous snakes each year in Australia, but a new antivenom developed by CSIRO is expected to reduce the number that die significantly.

While human deaths from snake bites have significantly reduced over the past few decades, treatments for pets are expensive and not as effective as they could be. Now, however, CSIRO scientists working with small biotech company Padula Serums Pty Ltd have produced an antivenom for eastern brown and tiger snakebite that neutralises the toxins that affect blood coagulation.

Prof George Lovrecz of CSIRO Manufacturing says the new antivenom is much more effective than those currently on the market because it’s distilled and concentrated to create a pure, fully-tested antivenom that’s ready to be injected into snake-bitten dogs. “We used the latest technologies to make sure that the antivenom is not only safe and effective but it’s also a lot cheaper to produce compared to existing products,” Lovrecz said.

The antivenom will be available from veterinary clinics around the country once final testing has been completed and the antivenom has been given approval for sale from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

The process used to develop the antivenom could be adapted to other types of snake venom or against the toxins of paralysing ticks. CSIRO scientists are also considering a similar approach to treat human viruses like Ebola.