In case of a black widow bite, what can you do?

New antibodies discovered – with fewer side effects and without animal testing

14-Jun-2024
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Black widows spiders are present worldwide with different species. The European black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus) is found in Europe, for example in the Mediterranean region. It prefers to live in dry areas, i.e. regions with low rainfall, high temperatures and dry soils. The female’s bites are feared, for example during harvest work. In order to reduce health risks after a bite accident, patients have so far been taking a serum of animal origin, but this itself carries a high risk of side effects. Under the leadership of the Technical University of Braunschweig, an international consortium has now developed human antibodies that neutralize the venom of the black widow. The results of the study have been summarized in the journal “Frontiers in Immunology”.

The European black widow injects a mixture of toxins (venom) into its victim with its bite. One of the venom’s neurotoxins, alpha-latrotoxin, is also dangerous for humans. Poisoning leads to abdominal and muscle pain as well as heart and respiratory problems, which can be fatal. For this reason, an antiserum is usually administered to the patient after a bite.

This antiserum is traditionally produced in horses. However, these horse serums have the disadvantage that they can lead to serious side effects (serum sickness). In addition, efforts are being made to reduce the number of animal experiments required for the production of antisera. Human recombinant antibodies produced by cell lines would help to avoid both disadvantages – the side effects for the patients as well as the animal experiments.

In a research project, human recombinant antibodies were generated using antibody phage display, a method for selecting antibodies in in vitro developed by Professor Stefan Dübel, head of the Department of Biotechnology at the TU Braunschweig. These antibodies can neutralize the alpha-latrotoxin. The efficacy of the antibodies against the alpha-latrotoxin of the European black widow has been confirmed in several cell-based assays.

The developed antibodies are possible candidates for the development of a drug that could replace horse serums in the treatment of black widow spider bites. In addition, the antibodies could be used for diagnostic tests, as there is as yet no unequivocal method for detecting poisoning by black widow spiders.

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Topic world Antibodies

Antibodies are specialized molecules of our immune system that can specifically recognize and neutralize pathogens or foreign substances. Antibody research in biotech and pharma has recognized this natural defense potential and is working intensively to make it therapeutically useful. From monoclonal antibodies used against cancer or autoimmune diseases to antibody-drug conjugates that specifically transport drugs to disease cells - the possibilities are enormous

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Topic world Antibodies

Topic world Antibodies

Antibodies are specialized molecules of our immune system that can specifically recognize and neutralize pathogens or foreign substances. Antibody research in biotech and pharma has recognized this natural defense potential and is working intensively to make it therapeutically useful. From monoclonal antibodies used against cancer or autoimmune diseases to antibody-drug conjugates that specifically transport drugs to disease cells - the possibilities are enormous