5-speed listening (Snakebite - Level 3)

Scientists hope to find cure for snakebites



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Scientists are hoping to find a universal cure for snakebite. Experts on snakebite venom in India, Kenya, Nigeria, the UK and the USA are working together on a possible cure. They are using the same technology that was used to discover HIV anti-bodies. The scientists are trying to find ways of using human anti-bodies to fight against snake venom. At the moment, snakebite is treated using anti-venom which adapts the actual venom from the snake. Professor Robert Harrison, from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said: "We're pursuing what we call the 'next generation' of snakebite therapies, which we hope will be able to treat bites from any snake in Africa or India."

Snakebites kill up to 140,000 people a year. More people die from snakebite than from infectious diseases like rabies or dengue fever. A further 400,000 people suffer life-changing injuries after being bitten by a snake. These injuries include amputations and psychological trauma. There are about 250 types of snake worldwide that have harmful venom. The venom from these snakes is very different, which makes finding anti-venoms very challenging for scientists. Former Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, describes snakebite as, "the biggest public health crisis you have likely never heard of". However, people who get the right anti-venom have a very high chance of survival.

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