Comparison of Preclinical Properties of Several Available Antivenoms in the Search for Effective Treatment of Vipera ammodytes and Vipera berus Envenoming.Toxins (Basel). 2021 03 13; 13(3)T
Snakebites are a relatively rare medical emergency in Europe. In more than half of the annual cases caused by Vipera ammodytes, Vipera berus, and Vipera aspis, immunotherapy with animal-derived antivenom is indicated. Among eight products recently identified as available against European medically relevant species, only Zagreb antivenom, Viperfav, and ViperaTAb have been used almost exclusively for decades. Zagreb antivenom comprises V. ammodytes-specific F(ab')2 fragments. Viperfav is a polyspecific preparation based on F(ab')2 fragments against V. aspis, V. berus, and V. ammodytes venoms. ViperaTAb contains Fab fragments against the venom of V. berus. In 2014 the production of Zagreb antivenom was discontinued. Additionally, in the period of 2017 to 2018 a shortage of Viperfav occurred. Due to a lack of the product indicated for the treatment of V. ammodytes bites, other antivenoms were implemented into clinical practice without comparative assessment of their eligibility. The aim of our work was to identify a high-quality antivenom that might ensure the successful treatment of V. ammodytes and V. berus bites at the preclinical level. Differentiation between bites from these two species is difficult and unreliable in clinical practice, so the availability of a unique antivenom applicable in the treatment of envenoming caused by both species would be the most advantageous for Southeastern Europe. Zagreb antivenom, Viperfav, and ViperaTAb, as well as Viper venom antitoxin for V. berus envenoming and the in-development Inoserp Europe, which was designed to treat envenoming caused by all medically important European snakes, were comparatively tested for the first time. Emphasis was placed on their physicochemical properties, primarily purity and aggregate content, as well as their in vivo protective efficacies. As Zagreb antivenom is no longer available on the European market, Viperfav is the highest-quality product currently available and the only antivenom whose neutralisation potency against V. ammodytes and V. berus venoms was above regulatory requirements.