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Engineering Antibodies Against Animal Venom Toxins

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Absolute Antibody Ltd., a provider of recombinant antibody products and services, has announced a partnership with the Technical University of Denmark to develop engineered recombinant antibodies specific for animal toxins, such as toxins from snake venoms. Antibodies targeting various snake and spider toxins are now commercially available in newly engineered formats, providing valuable research tools for scientists worldwide striving to produce better antivenom treatments.

More than five million people are bitten by snakes worldwide every year, resulting in 100,000 deaths, and many more amputations and other permanent disabilities. The only currently available treatment is antivenom derived from animal plasma, which is expensive and can result in serious adverse reactions. However, snakebite research has been hampered by limited attention and a lack of useful research tools. The World Health Organization (WHO) has therefore declared snakebite envenoming a neglected tropical disease to increase research toward better therapies and diagnostics.

The newly available toxin-specific antibodies are valuable tools for researchers studying snake venoms. Originally developed by the laboratory of Andreas Hougaard Laustsen at the Technical University of Denmark, the antibodies target cytotoxins and phospholipases A2 from African cobras, latrotoxin from widow spiders, and myotoxin II from lancehead vipers. Under the partnership, Absolute Antibody has engineered the antibodies into new recombinant formats and made them available to a wider scientific audience via an online reagents catalog.

The recombinant antibodies aim to ensure batch-to-batch reproducibility while also opening up new experimental possibilities. For example, the antibodies are now available in a human format for use as serological controls, mouse and rabbit formats for detection applications, and sheep formats to enable better comparisons to traditional antivenom. Scientists can also request the antibodies in custom species, isotypes and subtypes best suited for their research project.

“We’re excited to partner with the Laustsen lab to offer recombinant anti-toxin antibodies,” said Dr. Michael Fiebig, Vice President Product Portfolio & Innovation at Absolute Antibody. “Our collaboration makes these valuable reagents more widely available to the research community and increases the breadth of possible applications through antibody engineering.”

“The importance of having useful and robust research reagents as a scientist cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Andreas Hougaard Laustsen, Associate Professor in the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Technical University of Denmark. “I am very pleased to work with Absolute Antibody to jointly develop new toxin-specific antibodies, as increased access to these valuable tools will help toxinologists and antivenom researchers worldwide fight snakebite envenoming.”