Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking, of Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India, has been set up to nurture the Biotech Innovation Ecosystem, support Start-ups and SME’s for innovation research and promote affordable product development through public-private partnership
Snake bite is a common and frequently devastating environmental and occupational disease, especially in rural areas of tropical developing countries and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and disabilities every year. The World Health Organisation has added snakebite to the list of Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2009. India is estimated to have the highest snakebite mortality in the world. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates place the number of bites to be 83,000 per annum with 11,000 deaths. India therefore contributes to a significant proportion of global snake bite deaths. Although the full burden of human suffering attributable to snake bite remains obscure, hundreds of thousands of people are known to be envenomed and tens of thousands are killed or maimed by snakes every year. There are four species groups of snakes i.e. ‘Big Four’ are primarily responsible for the highest death rate from snakebite in any country in the world.
Snake venoms are the most complex of all natural venoms and poisons. Snake venom neurotoxins block/excite peripheral neuromuscular junctions by acting at various sites and bind to their receptors with high aﬃnity, making reversal of paralysis by anti-venom implausible. Anti-venom, prepared by immunizing horses or sheep with venom from snakes is the only medically accepted remedy for systemic snake envenomation. Antivenom is derived by immunizing horses with snake venom in gradually increasing doses until the horse reaches a high titre of immunity to the venom. The horse's hyper-immune serum is then refined into antivenom. All Indian antivenom are polyvalent, that is, they are effective against all the Big Four common venomous snakes of India. However, the high cost of generating antibodies in horses and side effects, such as serum sickness, are bona fide problems.
There are growing indications from clinicians that anti-venom produced from venoms of the ‘big four’, mainly sourced from a particular region, may not effectively neutralize envenomation by the ‘big four’ and related species in other parts of the country.
There are some critical issues with ASV, the production of which started 100 years ago in India. The potency of the presently available ASV is less than what it was prior to 1950’s. The main issues with ASV in actual clinical practice are species specificity, difficulty in availability, affordability and ideal storage conditions. One of the principal drawbacks of the immunotherapy is the issue of specificity. There is a huge species variation with current taxonomy identifying one, four and eight species of Russell’s viper, cobras and kraits, respectively. So the variable composition and antigenic reactivity of the venom restricts the use of a particular ASV to a geographical area with relevant specificity. Venom variation, low potency, bites by other species could be responsible for the reported failure of polyvalent ASV in countering the venom effects in India.
Further there are various logistic, marketing and economic issues with the production and supply of ASV. Production in lyophilized form is costly, and there can be physiochemical changes in the product by lyophilization. The liquid form requires cold chain. The production of monovalent ASV is a costly affair. In India the monovalent ASV is not produced. However, it has been proposed that in developing countries, the production of ASV can be sustained at affordable prices if cost efficient methods of production are kept in mind. There needs to be rapid technical advancement in production.
Identification of the snake is important in planning the treatment. Anti-venom is the only medically accepted remedy for systemic snake envenomation. Conventional clinical practice is to administer polyvalent ASV often causes severe anaphylaxis reaction in the victim, seen in up to 30 of the recipient’s worldwide demanding secondary treatment. Acute pulmonary oedemas, cerebellar ataxia and uveitis an immunological complication are some of the complications following polyvalent serum. Though monovalent ASVs are available, lack of a proper diagnostic system preludes this opportunity. Many attempts have been made worldwide to develop species specific diagnostic kit based on antibodies, but have not found successful mainly because of inter-species cross reactivity to the crude venom as also the lack of sensitivity related to the small quantities in which venom is injected.
Considering to the importance of snake venom, it is necessary to evaluate the toxicity of protein components of snake venom. The Snake venom is extracted (milked) from different types of poisonous snakes. This extracted venom is stored in the form of lyophilised powder until its requirement for commercial production for anti-snake venom or for any research organization who want to carry research on snake venom. Snake venom is a very costly substance, but unfortunately we don’t have any data whether the efficacy of venom is increasing or decreasing with respect to time. Snake venom should be remain active for approximately 5 to 7 years from the date of its extraction from snake. There is an immediate need of a facility to assure the efficacy of the venom going to be used for the production of the ASV, to assure the quality, safety and efficacy of the ASV and to assure that the quality of the ASV meets appropriate standards and is consistent.
PURPOSE OF THE CALL
Considering the above and other issues related to snake bite problem in India, BIRAC invites proposals for developing novel tools/technologies/processes pertaining to snake bite problem and product optimization/Scale-up on “Anti Snake Venom”.
This call is to seek individual applications on either of the following:
SCOPE OF THE CALL
The scope of the call will focus on cost effective, novel and innovative approaches.
What the Project should encompass:
The following are some of the indicative priority areas for submitting the proposals,
A product which has not been listed will also be considered if there is a proper justification. Applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals in collaboration with academic institute(s).
Proposals not falling within the scope of the call
The proposals can be submitted under SBIRI scheme of BIRAC
Eligibility for SBIRI
Eligibility criteria for industry
Eligibility criteria for academic collaborator
Proposals under SBIRI/BIPP/AIR/CRS are required to be submitted online only. For submission of proposals, applicants need to register with BIRAC through “User Registration”. Additional information on user registration and proposal submission are available online at BIRAC website at www.birac.nic.in.
No Hard Copy to be submitted. Proposals submitted online only would be considered.
Last date for Submission of Proposals: 15th December 2017
BIRAC will ensure maintenance of strict confidentiality of the proposals as per DBT norms.
For any queries, please contact:
Head – Investment: firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcement Date: 01-11-2017
Last Submission Date: 15-12-2017 12:00 AM