The Centre for Snakebite Research & Interventions
Snakebite is a Neglected Tropical Disease that annually kills 81,000-138000 people residing in some of the world’s most disadvantaged subsistence farming communities, and leaves 400,000 surviving victims with permanent physical disabilities/disfigurements. It is the rural impoverished African and Asian communities, and particularly the most economically important and educationally vulnerable 10-30 year olds, that suffer disproportionally high rates of snakebite mortality and morbidity. Snakebite is therefore both a consequence and cause of tropical poverty.
Throughout the 50-year history of the Centre, its objective has been to conduct a diverse portfolio of research activity to better understand the biology of snake venoms and use this information to improve the efficacy, safety and affordability of antivenom treatment of tropical snakebite victims. The Centre and its staff, led by Professor Rob Harrison, is part of the LSTM Department of Tropical Disease Biology and herpetarium hosts the largest and most diverse collection of tropical venomous snakes in the UK to support its research activities.
The combination of the Centre's venomous snakes with its extensive research activity is one of the main messages of our UK-unique ‘Key Topics in Snakebite’ MSc module, and a potent illustration of how UK research benefits human health in the tropics – a message we enthusiastically deliver to fulfill our frequent media requests, and that is central to our many other public engagement activities.
EchiTAb Study Group
The EchiTAb Study Group was a collaboration between the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, CSRI (then the Alistair Reid Venom Research Unit) and the University of Oxford to resolve the antivenom crisis in Nigeria. With Nigerian Government funding, the EchiTAb Study Group imported the most medically-important Nigerian snakes into Liverpool, extracted their venom and provided it to antivenom manufacturers in UK (MicroPharm Ltd) and Costa Rica (Instituto Clodomiro Picado) who developed (i) a monospecific antivenom to the saw-scaled viper and (ii) a polyspecific antivenom to treat envenoming for Echis ocellatus, Bitis arietans and Naja nigricollis.