During the course of the clinical trials, support provided by the UNAM included developing new analytical techniques to measure the venom and antivenom in the blood of Arizona patients. In addition, scientists from the UNAM worked closely with Instituto Bioclon to ensure that manufacturing processes met the U.S. standards.
In Arizona, which has the highest concentration of dangerous bark scorpions in the U.S., about 8,000 scorpion stings occur each year. Several hundred of these result in serious nerve poisoning and require medical treatment. Nearly all of these patients are young children, whose breathing may be severely affected by the effects of the venom. Without antivenom, children stung by scorpions typically require heavy sedation and intensive supportive care and, often, a ventilator.
Decades ago, Arizonans had access to a different kind of antivenom that was produced at Arizona State University, but in 1999 the researcher's approaching retirement put an end to new production. No known replacement existed, and the critical need for antivenom was about to become urgent.
Boyer, who accompanied a National Geographic television crew filming of venomous creatures in Mexico in 1999, visited the Cuernavaca campus of the UNAM.
There, researchers were investigating the effects of a new antivenom made by Instituto Bioclon, based in Mexico City.
Having witnessed the use of the antivenom in children stung by scorpions in Mexico, Boyer was certain of the potential for this drug to help children in Arizona. But the safety and efficacy of the product, called Alacramyn in Mexico and later Anascorp in the U.S., had to be proved to the exacting standards of the FDA.
With a grant from the Office of Orphan Pro
|Contact: Ann Cisneros|
University of Arizona Health Sciences Center