Research Highlight

Nanotechnology to the aid of snake-bite victims

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.4 Published online 13 January 2017

Venom extraction from Russell's viper. 

© Antony Gomes

A new therapy against snake-bite — a major health hazard in tropical countries — might be in the offing with scientists creating herb-nanoparticles exploiting the anti-venom properties of the herb Hemidesmus indicus1.

Researchers from the toxicology laboratory of University of Calcutta conjugated gold nanoparticles (GNP) with HMBA (2-hydroxy-4-methoxy-benzoic acid), a compound they extracted from the root of the herb Anantamul (H. indicus), which shows anti-venom activity.

Animal experiments showed that the GNP-HMBA combination successfully neutralized all kinds of toxicity (nephrotoxicity, myotoxicity and hepatotoxicity) in mice injected with the venom of Russell's viper, one of the most venomous snakes.

"There are about 600 species of venomous snakes around the world, of which 60 are in India," says Antony Gomes, one of the authors. Antisnake venom serum (ASVS) is the only available treatment for snake-bite but it has many adverse effects and limitations. The herb-nanoparticle may open up a new strategy to treat snake-bite. More intensive research is needed to explore the mechanism of action of GNP-HMBA in detail, the researchers say.


1. Saha, K. & Gomes, A. Russell’s viper venom induced nephrotoxicity, myotoxicity, and hepatotoxicity — Neutralization with gold nanoparticle conjugated 2-hydroxy-4-methoxy benzoic acid in vivo. Ind. J. Exp. Biol. 55, 7-14 (2017) Article