A protein engineered from the toxic venom of Reaper spiders could be the key to developing the next generation of anti-venom vaccines, according to an Elsevier press release.
Researchers at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil published a study today in the journal Vaccine describing how they created the anti-venom by mixing together three proteins found in the toxin of the Loxosceles intermedia spider. Because it is composed in this way, the vaccine can protect against more than one kind of venom at once.
It's also more efficient and faster to produce than traditional anti-venoms. Current methods involve administering a venom to an animal and then using the antibodies it produces to make a serum, Elsevier says. These antibodies are somewhat effective against poison when administered to humans, but they require a specimen of venom from the poisonous animal and the suffering of a live test animal to produce.
With their new method, the researchers engineered the three-protein mixture in the lab, without the need to collect venom from an animal. And when administered to a test animal to produce antibodies for the treatment of humans, the test animals suffer no harm, Elsevier says.
The team tested their new vaccine on rabbits, and found it to be effective against the poison of the L. intermedia and L. gaucho sub-species of Reaper spider. The immunized rabbits were protected against skin damage at the venom injection site, and from the hemorrhaging which is often a consequence of this spider's venom.