Snake [Representational Image]
Angeline D'Silva received a live cobra in a parcel on Tuesday [Representational Image]Reuters

A team of researchers have taken a step to create a universal antidote. The team led by Matthew Lewin of the California Academy of Sciences and Dr. Stephen P. Samuel of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland have examined the effectiveness of a nasally administered antiparalytic drug, the results of which have been promising.

Snakebite can have serious consequences, including death, and traditional treatments include 30 vials of antivenom. The patient, even after the heavy dose of antivenom can take some more time to recover completely.

Reports of death due to snakebite in India are about a third as many AIDS infected and gravely injured people. About 75 percent of victims die before they could reach for treatment. This has led to the importance of finding new potential ways for treating the poisonous snakebites.

"Antivenom is necessary, but not sufficient to manage this problem," said Matthew Lewin, one of the researchers, in a news release.

 "Its limitations are fairly well known at this point and we need a better bridge to survival. It's ironic that virtually every medical organization and practitioner wears the snake symbol, yet we have no real effective treatments for the people getting bitten. Ninety-eight percent of snakebite victims live in poverty, which is perhaps why funding and innovation are lacking. The bottom line is that no one should die from a snake bite in the twenty-first century, and we're optimistic about this promising step." 

For the experiment, the researchers used mice to check for the effectiveness of a nasally administered antiparalytic drug, which was injected with heavy doses of the venom of Indian cobra. The test showed that venom-injected mice survived even after being treated with neostigmine, the antiparalytic agent.

Initially, the team displayed the potential of the new venom treatment during an experiment that was conducted in April 2013 at the University of California, San Francisco. The experiment employed healthy human volunteer, who was paralyzed with the help of a toxin that imitates the effects of cobra venom and similar snakes that paralyses its victim. The volunteer was then administered with the nasal spray and the patient recovered within 20 minutes.

In late June 2013, antiparalytic agent was used by researchers when they improved the recovery process of a snakebite victim using this technique. The patient, after receiving 30 vials of antivenom survived but suffered facial paralysis and remained weak. But with the administration of antiparalytic spray, the patient not only recovered from the paralysis but also resumed work within just two weeks. Thus, this finding could be great for treating snakebites in the near future.

The findings could be a great benefit for treating snakebites in the future. Theoretically, a nasal spray, could be administered several times without the use of needles. At present, the scientists are working to examine potential antivenom combinations in order to produce a complete spray-based antidote.

The findings were published in the journal Clinical Case Reports.