LSTM’s Dr Rachel Clare, within the Centre for Snakebite Research and Interventions, has been awarded a Directors Catalyst Fund to explore the development of a high-throughput drug discovery screen to identify small molecules (drugs) to treat snakebite envenoming.
Annually, 500,000 people suffer fatality or life-changing disability due to snakebite. Those most affected live in some of the world’s poorest communities in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America leading to the classification of Snakebite as a priority Neglected Tropical Disease. Current therapies (antivenoms) are expensive, lack efficacy and cause adverse reactions. Small molecules including a repurposed drug (DMPS) discovered by LSTM’s Centre for Snakebite Research and Interventions, have been shown to inhibit various toxins within snake venom, resulting in protection from the effects of snake envenoming. Consequently, using the Director’s Catalyst Fund Dr Clare will be developing a high-throughput drug discovery programme against one family of toxins to identify potential antivenom candidates which could be rapidly translated to clinical therapies. The development of low-cost, potent and safe small molecules has the potential to save many thousands of lives and prevent the severe physical disabilities caused by snakebites in the world’s poorest communities.