8 July 2016

Science saving man's best friend from deadly snake bites

Australia is home to 10 of the most venomous snakes in the world and thousands of dogs are bitten each year in Australia.

Science saving dogs from deadly snake bites

Show transcript

[Music plays and text appears: Saving dogs from deadly snake bites]

[Image changes to show a dog and then two dogs play fighting]

Andrew Padula: Snake bite is a really big problem in Australia for animals.

[Image changes to show a snake, tongue out and moving slowly]

The dog-snake conflict it’s classic veterinary problem. It’s been estimated there’s over 6,000 cases of snake bite in animals in Australia each year.

[Image changes to show Andrew Padula, veterinarian]

[Image changes to show green hills and trees and then a herd of cows grazing]

I work in a geographic area where snake envenomation is quite a significant problem that we deal with. We need, as a veterinary profession, to be able to offer something a bit better than what is out there to our clients.

[Image changes to show different dogs playing, friendly barking can be heard]

[Image changes to show an outside shot of CSIRO building and then moves to show two people in a laboratory type setting]

I was fortunate that CSIRO were able to offer an excellent range of services and facilities that nicely complemented working with this biological material to convert it into a pharmaceutical product.

[Image changes to show people working within the laboratory]

[Image changes to show Prof George Lovrecz, CSIRO Researcher]

Prof George Lovrecz: So Andrew Padula approached us, because he had an interesting project in his mind to develop a new snake anti-venom, essentially, for dogs.

[Image has changed back to show two dogs play fighting]

Unfortunately dogs have only a 20 per cent chance to survive if they get bitten by a snake.

[Image changes to show a snake, tongue out and moving slowly]

This project became a nice collaborative arrangement between a small biotech company and CSIRO.

[Image has changed back to show people working within the laboratory type setting]

Our lab is really special and unique in the Australian landscape, because we’ve got licences not just to make experiments in a fully controlled way, but also to produce final products as well.

We were able to use the latest technologies, which made the anti-venom more effective and also, it made it even more cost effective compared to other drugs. Definitely it’s an advantage for the small biotech company who would like to sell it.

[Image changes to show a scientist working with a bottle of green liquid and small test container]

Andrew Padula: What we’ve shown with this product is it has some interesting, powerful, neutralising properties against the toxins contained in snake venoms such as the tiger snake and brown snake that cause blood clotting disturbances.

[Image has changed back to Andrew Padula]

The project has worked very well with CSIRO.

[Image has changed back to show two dogs play fighting and then back to the snake]

We have successfully developed a very efficient processing technology, which should flow on to benefits for veterinarians and, ultimately, pet owners at the end of the day.

[Music plays and CSIRO logo appears on screen beside text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

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The number that die is set to reduce significantly thanks to a new antivenom developed by CSIRO.

Thankfully the number of people who die from snake bites has significantly reduced over the past few decades as medical expertise has advanced and antivenoms are more readily available.

Our pets however are still at risk as treatments can be expensive and not as effective as they could be.

CSIRO scientists worked with Padula Serums Pty Ltd, a small biotech company in regional Victoria to produce an antivenom to treat Eastern Brown and Tiger snake bites.

Dr Andrew Padula of Padula Serums said that working with CSIRO helped turn his idea into a reality.

“I’ve been working on antivenom serums for dogs and cats for a while now but I really needed the expert equipment and skills of the CSIRO scientists to make the best product possible,” Dr Padula said.

Prof George Lovrecz from CSIRO’s manufacturing team explains that this new process is much more effective that those currently on the market because it is distilled and concentrated to create a pure, fully-tested antivenom which is ready to be injected into snake-bitten dogs.

“We used the latest technologies to make sure that the anti-venom is not only safe and effective but it’s also a lot cheaper to produce compared to existing products,” Prof Lovrecz said.

With this more effective and lower cost product, more dogs will be able to be saved from deadly snake bites.

Once final testing has been completed and the antivenom has been given approval for sale from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority it will be available on the market and stocked by vets around the country.

This new treatment could also have applications for treating humans for snake bites or against the toxins of paralysing ticks and CSIRO scientists are also researching the possibility of using a similar approach to treat other viruses like Ebola.

CSIRO is looking to partner with other biomedical companies to explore these applications further.

Small business looking to access research capability from CSIRO or other Australian research institutions, might be eligible for a grant through CSIRO’s SMEconnect team.

Additional resources

Images

  • Farm dogs in ute at Ginninderra Experiment Station Download image

    CSIRO scientists worked with Padula Serums Pty Ltd, a small biotech company in regional Victoria to produce an antivenom to treat Eastern Brown and Tiger snake bites. © CSIRO, Carl Davies

  • Eastern brown snake Download image

    Australia is home to 10 of the most venomous snakes in the world and thousands of dogs are bitten each year in Australia.

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NEWS RELEASE CONTACT

  • Miss Nikki Galovic

    Communication Advisor · Communications

    • Phone:
      • +61 3 9545 2997
      • +61 477 733 351 (Mobile)

    Email: Nikki.Galovic@csiro.au

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