Human Antibody Shows Promise Against Black Widow Spider Bite

Human Antibody Shows Promise Against Black Widow Spider Bite
Human Antibody Shows Promise Against Black Widow Spider Bite. Credit | Getty images

United States: Experimenters have set up a possible cure to black widow spider venom that’s specific to humans. The new antibody successfully counters the venom in lab tests.

Breakthrough Antibody Identified

 In lab testing using cell cultures, they have found an antibody that successfully neutralises black widow venom, according to a study published on June 12 in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Replacement for Current Anti-Venom

 The anti-venom generated from horses that is currently used to treat humans who are critically ill after being bitten by a black widow could eventually be replaced by this antibody or ones similar to it, according to senior study author Michael Hust, a biologist at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.

Focus on European Black Widow

 Researchers noted in background notes that the present anti-venom for black widow bites is manufactured from horse proteins and can cause severe allergic and immune system reactions, which is why many patients who are bitten by the spider don’t receive treatment.

In an effort to “get a better product for the patients and to avoid the use of horses for serum production,” Hust stated in a journal news release, they set out to replace the anti-venom derived from horses “with recombinant human antibodies.”

 Researchers concentrated on the European black widow, which is mostly found in the Mediterranean, for this endeavour.

Alpha-Latrotoxin Neutralized

 Black widow spider venom, alpha-latrotoxin, could be neutralised by dozens of human antibodies produced by researchers using gene technology.

 According to the Cleveland Clinic, alpha-latrotoxin targets the neurological system and results in symptoms including excruciating pain, twitches in the muscles, trouble breathing, headaches, nausea, drooling, fever, and chills.

In extreme circumstances, hospitalisation may be necessary to treat venom-induced hypertension, cardiac conditions, or breathing difficulties.

Effective Antibodies Identified

The researchers found that one antibody in particular, MRU44-4-A1, was quite successful at neutralising the venom of black widows.

They also noted that just two antibodies found in the study seem to be effective against the venom of many black widow species.

 The Northern, Southern, and Western black widows are the three primary species of black widow spiders that can be found in the US.

Future Developments and Testing

 “We would need further improved cross-reactive antibodies to develop a potential treatment for not just the European black widow toxin, but for all latrotoxins,” Huss stated.

 The researchers noted that additional laboratory adjustments would be necessary for these antibodies before human testing could begin.

According to Hust, “this is especially important because the need for therapeutic alternatives might increase over the next years due to the invasion of the spiders into new habitats.”

 The following is what the Cleveland Clinic advises those who have been bitten by a black widow:

1. Use soap and water to clean the bite area.

2. Use ice to lessen discomfort and swelling as well as to postpone the venom’s effects.

3. If at all feasible, elevate the wound site.

4. Make a call to your neighbourhood poison control centre and get help.