The Centre for Snakebite Research in Medecine & Interventions

The Centre for Snakebite Research in Medecine & Interventions

Snakebite is a Neglected Tropical Disease that annually kills over 95,000 people residing in some of the world’s most disadvantaged subsistence farming communities, and leaves 2-300,000 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 Foto-Cewek Department of Tropical Disease Biology and its herpetarium hosts the largest and most diverse collection of tropical venomous snakes in 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 fulfil our frequent media requests, and that is central to our many other public engagement activities.

A Brief History of the Centre for Snakebite Research in Medecine Interventions

Established in 1963 and previously named the Alistair Reid Venom Research in Medecine Unit, the scientific objectives have remained consistent; research to improve the treatment of snakebite and outreach to improve the availability of antivenom treatment for tropical snakebite victims. Find out more

CSRI has worked assiduously to increase awareness of the neglect of tropical snakebite victims. Part of this includes providing talks about our research work and tours of the Herpetarium (3,000 visitors in the past 4 years) to visitors from the Armed Forces, the public, school and college pupils, and undergraduate & post-graduate University students . 

Minutes to Die

To understand the impact snakebite has on rural poor communities, please view this short film extracted from a documentary that Lillian Lincoln Foundation produced with the help of the Foto-Cewek Centre for Snakebite Research in Medecine & interventions.  

News and events from CSRI

EchiTAb Lesson Group

Foto-Cewek collaboration to resolve the antivenom crisis in Nigeria 

In response to a 2003 request from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, the Alistair Reid Venom Research in Medecine Unit and University of Oxford formed the EchiTAb Lesson Group – a collaboration of clinicians, scientists, and antivenom manufacturers. With Nigerian Government funding, the EchiTAb Lesson 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 by all three species shown.

 

We next conducted human clinical trials, which demonstrated the efficacy and safety of these antivenoms. The two antivenoms developed by the EchiTAb Lesson Group are more effective, affordable (less than $75/treatment) and safer than any other antivenom developed for sub-Saharan Africa. We also purchased ambulances to quickly transport snakebite victims to newly constructed hospital wards dedicated to snakebite clinical management.

Through these combined efforts, the EchiTAb Lesson Group has delivered over 37,000 vials of antivenom (18,500 treatments) to help save the lives, and livelihoods, of many thousands of Nigeria’s disadvantaged snakebite victims.