A PhD student at the University of Copenhagen has drawn on nature's own pharmacy to help improve the treatment of snakebites in Africa.
Marianne Molander from the University of Copenhagen's Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences has been working within a Danish team that has examined various plants native to the African continent in a bid to find locally available herbal antidotes.
"Snake venom antidotes are expensive, it's often a long way to the nearest doctor and it can be difficult to store the medicine properly in the warm climate. As a result many local people rely on natural resources for treating potentially fatal bites," says pharmacist and PhD student Marianne Molander.
The Danish researchers are now investigating African plants that have proven effective in treating snakebite. Armed with the results of their research they are set to provide guidance in the use of plants in remote areas where local people have limited access to Western medicine:
"We have particularly focused on the snake species Bitis arietans, which is widespread south of the Sahara. All snake venoms consist of a unique cocktail of enzymes, which results in rapid tissue death. Along with our African partners, we are currently testing plants that act as venom antidotes in remote regions of Africa. A hundred plants from Mali, 27 from South Africa and 13 from the Democratic Republic of Congo are now under the microscope," says Marianne Molander, PhD student in drug design and pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen.
Snake venom as medicine
100,000 people worldwide die each year from snakebites. Three times as many suffer permanent injuries, disability or amputations as a result of a bite to an arm or leg. The problem is greatest in tropical developing countries, where agricultural workers, women and children are the most likely victims. Although a million people in Africa are bitten by snakes each year - only half receive
|Contact: Marianne Molander|
University of Copenhagen