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13 May 2013

Synthetic protein could be foundation for future anti-venom vaccine

An engineered protein has the potential to be used as an anti-venom vaccine

Synthetic spider protein could be used to create future anti-venom vaccines in a development that could potentially save thousands of lives every year.

Brazilian researchers engineered protein from three pieces of venom toxin from the Loxosceles intermedia spider. While the synthetic fibre is not toxic, it has been found to protect against the dangers of pure spider venom in animal models.

Current vaccines for venomous bites are not ideal as they can be harmful to patients. Furthermore, they often involve using antibodies from animals infected with the venom.

"We wanted to develop a new way of protecting people from the effects of these spider bites, without having to suffer from side-effects," explained Dr Chavez-Olortegui, corresponding author of the study published in the Elsevier journal Vaccine.

As an engineered protein, there would be no need for venomous animals to brought into the lab to create the vaccine, and because it is made up of three proteins, it can defend against more than one toxin at a time.

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