Research Topic

Novel Immunotherapies against Envenomings by Snakes and Other Venomous Animals

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About this Research Topic

Each year, several million people fall victim to envenoming caused by snakes, scorpions, spiders, and other venomous animals. For more than 120 years, such envenomings have been treated with antisera comprised of polyclonal antibodies or antibody fragments derived from the plasma of hyper-immunized animals. ...

Each year, several million people fall victim to envenoming caused by snakes, scorpions, spiders, and other venomous animals. For more than 120 years, such envenomings have been treated with antisera comprised of polyclonal antibodies or antibody fragments derived from the plasma of hyper-immunized animals. These medicines have been key to saving lives and limbs. However, given their heterologous nature, they are associated with several drawbacks, including a high content of non-neutralizing antibodies and a propensity to elicit adverse reactions, such as anaphylaxis and serum sickness. With the advent of monoclonal antibodies, DNA sequencing and other biotechnological breakthroughs, an opportunity presents itself for introducing significant innovation to the field of envenoming therapies.

The identification of fully human monoclonal antibodies and antibody fragments that are able to neutralize key toxins from snake, scorpion, spider, and bee venoms in vivo have recently been reported. As an example, it has been demonstrated that dendrotoxin-mediated neurotoxicity of black mamba whole venom can be neutralized in rodent models by using oligoclonal mixtures of recombinant human immunoglobulin G antibodies. The expanding knowledge on antibody technologies is likely to further these developments. Novel immunization technologies, including the use of recombinant consensus toxins and DNA-based epitope strings as rationally-designed immunogens, have sparked new scientific efforts in improving existing antivenom manufacture. Finally, novel antivenomic approaches, antivenom-venom epitope profiling approaches, such as the use of high-density peptide microarray technology, as well as the development of much needed diagnostic tools for toxin and venom analyses are likely to support the development of innovative immunotherapies against snakebite and other animal envenomings.

In this Research Topic, we welcome researchers to submit manuscripts (Original Research articles, Reviews, Methods, Perspectives, Opinion articles, Commentaries, and Clinical Trials) within the field of next-generation therapies for the treatment of animal envenomings, including (i) the discovery and engineering of monoclonal antibodies; (ii) novel immunization approaches; (iii) immunoprofiling of animal toxins and (iv) envenoming diagnostics. The aim of this Research Topic is to consolidate the efforts needed for the development of novel immunotherapies against bites and stings of venomous animals. It provides an exhaustive, easily accessible reference to the different novel approaches that are used to solve complex, contemporary problems in toxicity and pathological symptoms caused by various venomous animals. We believe that this Research Topic will help to foster a wider interest in venomous bites and stings, to entice new, talented researchers into this field, and to generate more enthusiasm in the field.

This Research Topic will focus on, but not limited to, the following sub-topics:

1. Understanding the immunological effect of animal toxins on the (i) innate and (ii) adaptive immune system.
2. Novel immunization approaches for anti-venom development.
3. Immunoprofiling and epitope identification of animal toxins, including analytical techniques for assessing antivenom specificity
4. Discovery of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.
5. Antibody technologies, such as affinity maturation, structural optimization, and engineering of cross-reactivity, in the field of envenoming therapies.
6. Alternative binding protein scaffolds for toxin neutralization.
7. Diagnostic antibodies for snakebite and other animal envenomings.

Topic Editor Andreas Hougaard Laustsen is the co-founder of VenomAid Diagnostics ApS (www.venomaid.com). Topic Editor Bruno Lomonte works at the Academic Division of Instituto Clodomiro Picado, University of Costa Rica, which produces and commercializes therapeutic antivenoms against snake bite. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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