Snake Venom Serum Production by Red Cross
Manufacturing of Snakebite Serum: How does the Red Cross Produces Snake Antivenom Serum
The Red Cross Snake Farm produces various types of serum for snakebite victims, and is has been supplying for almost decade 6 types of snake antivenin to treat bites from cobras (Ophiophagus Hannah), king cobras (Ophiophagus Hannah Snake), banded kraits (Bungarus fasciatus Snake), Russell’s vipers (Daboia Russelli Siamensis), Malayan pit vipers (Calloselasma Rhodostoma), and Green Pit Viper (Trimeresurus Albolabris).
Antiserums are normally prepared from blood plasma from horse immunized by injection of antigen. The purpose is to let the horse’s immune system generate “Immunoglobulin” that has neutralization activity and antigen specificity.
For snake antivenom production, the snake venom has been injected into a horse and after injection, the horse’s immunoglobulin will be generated until it reaches required level, then its blood will be collected and the hemoglobin are separated from plasma to be turned back to the horse.
The plasma fraction, containing the immunoglobulin are used for antivenom production.
The plasma consist of many proteins but only immunoglobulin can neutralize snake venom.
Unrelevant proteins such as albumin, fibrinogen and others are removed in the purpose of the reduction of allergic reaction when injected.
Red Cross antivenin is always produced following the same process explained here step by step:
First, antivenin is produced by injecting snake venom into a horse and the weekly dosage is gradually increased until the horse is able to produce its own natural antivenin. To ensure that the product has the required strength, blood is drawn from the horse and tested at intervals.
When the antivenin meets the required strength, some blood is drawn from the horse (without causing any harm to the animal) and preserved in a clean, safe container.
Then the antivenin is purified: by means of sedimentation and sifting, non-antibody-related proteins (which tend to cause allergy when administered to patients) are extracted from the compound that has most direct effect against snake venom.
The serum is bottled and dehydrated to make it easy to transport and store for long periods.
Snake antivenin is now ready but to ensure the serum’s effectiveness and safety many quality control tests are also conducted on animals under laboratory conditions in compliance with World Health Organization standards to be sure that Red Cross antivenin is proper for human use.