Search for a Snakebite Drug Might Lead to a COVID Treatment, Too

Dr. Matthew Lewin, founder of the Center for Exploration and Travel Health at the California Academy of Sciences, was researching snakebite treatments in rural locations in preparation for an expedition to the Philippines in 2011.

The story of a renowned herpetologist from the academy, Joseph Slowinski, who was bitten by a highly venomous krait in Myanmar and couldn’t get to a hospital in time to save his life a decade earlier, weighed on the emergency room doctor.

“I concluded that I needed something small and compact and that doesn’t care what kind of snake,” Lewin said.

It didn’t exist. That set Lewin in pursuit of a modern snakebite drug, a journey that finds his Corte Madera, California, company, Ophirex, nearing a promising oral treatment that fits in a pocket; is stable, easy to use and affordable; and treats the venom from many species. “That’s the holy grail of snakebite treatment,”

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