Creating an E. Coli Strain to Produce Antivenom Essay example

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Background Each year snakes envenomate 421,000 people, 20,000 of whom die. These injuries are especially concentrated in developing countries, where snake bites are an occupational hazard. (Kasturiratne et al. 2008). The negative impact of this could be alleviated by the creation and production of a low-cost, human-compatible universal antivenom. Lethal Toxin Neutralizing Factor, henceforth LTNF, is a substance that has been isolated from opossum (Didelphis virginiana) serum, liquid component of blood. LTNF can neutralize nearly all venoms, by a mechanism not yet understood, including those never before encountered by the opossum (Menchaca & Perez 1981, Shier 2008). The active site of LTNF has been isolated into a 15 amino acid-long…show more content…
Currently, antivenoms are produced by injecting non-lethal doses of the venom into other animals, typically large mammals, and collecting the antibodies produced in response (Domont et al. 1991). In contrast, our project produces LT-15 using genetically manipulated E. coli. There are immense benefits to our project. Primarily, the benefits derive from the use of LT-15 as a universal antivenom in medical settings. With LT-15, medical facilities can carry fewer venom-specific antivenoms and more LT-15, reducing storage costs. Additionally, LT-15 could be used as an initial or booster antivenom, for when the active venom cannot be immediately identified. Furthermore, use of LT-15 could decrease the per-unit cost of antivenom. Because production of antivenom has high fixed costs but low variable costs, economies of scale exist and the average cost falls as production quantity rises. Since LT-15 could be used universally, we anticipate a large demand for it, leading to a lower cost for per-unit of LT-15 than for each antivenom it replaces (Chen et al. 1995). Finally, the use of an E. coli to produce antivenom would nearly eliminate the allergic reactions many patients experience with antivenoms produced in large mammals (Lipps 2000). Current antivenom production yields a large quantity of animal serum with many antibodies, only some of which are venom-specific. In order to achieve adequate levels of specific antivenom in the bloodstream, a large

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