Making Antivenom out of Human Antibodies | SciShow News

Making Antivenom out of Human Antibodies | SciShow News


SciShow is supported by Brilliant.org. [ ♪ Intro ] It’s tempting to think that doctors are
on the cutting edge of medical science, but some advancements take a while. Like this week, a paper was published in Nature
Communications that announced progress toward a more effective antivenom for the super toxic black mamba. This snake’s venom has a few kinds of potent
neurotoxins that act in the bloodstream and mess up the nervous system. Without treatment, a bite from one of these
danger noodles can cause drowsiness, stopped breathing, and paralysis, eventually resulting
in death in as little as half an hour. Now, the antivenoms that we currently have neutralize
toxins by binding antibodies to them, making them harmless. These antivenoms are made by injecting a bit
of black mamba venom into large animals, usually horses, so their immune systems develop antibodies
for the toxins. Then, we extract their blood plasma, process
it with a variety of chemicals and filters, and there’s a treatment. But there are some side effects that researchers
are trying to cut down on, like nausea, low blood pressure, skin rashes, or swelling. I mean, if you succeed at not dying, it’s
probably a price you’re willing to pay. As of now, researchers still aren’t totally
sure what causes the side effects. But they hope that antibodies derived from
humans will be more compatible with our immune systems and reduce them. And recently, scientists tested different
treatments in mice. They injected mice with either isolated neurotoxins
or complete black mamba venom, and either individual human antibodies or combinations
of a few. They found out two big things from all these
experiments. The first is that human antibodies can effectively
neutralize at least some lethal neurotoxins inside of a living animal. And the second is that antivenoms that used
multiple types of antibodies were more effective. In the end, the most effective cocktail involved
three specific human antibodies. It could protect against typically lethal
doses of venom, even when everything was injected straight into mice brains. Now, this kind of study is a proof of concept. Researchers still have to do more work and make sure enough toxins are neutralized with these antivenom mixtures to prevent death. So we’re not about to jump into human trials,
but it’s a start. While medical researchers are always searching
for ways to treat diseases, they’re also coming up with better ways to find diseases. And sometimes, they can get a little creative. One study that really stepped it up is currently
making the news online. It’s actually called “The Vampire Study” and was published this past August in the United European Gastroenterology Journal. These researchers were trying to learn more
about how to test for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD. And to do that, they had subjects drink their
own blood. IBD is a term that encompasses both Crohn’s
disease and ulcerative colitis, both conditions that feature chronic inflammation in the intestines. And it’s potentially on the rise. These conditions can have lots of different
symptoms that vary between patients, like pain, low energy, or diarrhea. So diagnoses are tricky, and doctors use multiple
tests to make sure they’re accurate and monitor how the disease is changing. The gold standard is to attach a camera to
a long tube, stick it in the patient’s body, and have a look around. But this process, called an endoscopy, is
invasive and can be uncomfortable. So researchers are hoping to find some kind
of marker in poop that could be used alongside endoscopies to diagnose and monitor IBD. Ideally, this could also act as a screening
test so people who have other bowel diseases can skip the scope. One of the best candidates for a marker so
far is fecal calprotectin, a protein commonly found during inflammation. It’s super present in neutrophils, one of
the cells involved in the early immune response. So the thought was: more calprotectin, more
inflammation. And in healthy patients, doctors shouldn’t
find much calprotectin, like, below 50 micrograms per gram of poop. So it sounds like a simple yes or no test for IBD,
but there is a problem. If a patient has any bleeding in their upper
digestive system, more calprotectin might show up in their stool. And while any bleeding is bad, it can be a
symptom of many different conditions. So if you’re a doctor trying to diagnose
IBD or watch for inflammation flare ups, you want a positive test result to mean one clear,
specific thing. Which this test might not. So these researchers were trying to figure out
how much blood would raise calprotectin levels above that 50 microgram per gram threshold. They tested this by having 16 healthy subjects
drink either 100 or 300 milliliters of their own blood. Then a month later, they drank the other volume. The researchers collected daily poop samples
from 2 days before to 7 days after patients drank blood, plus an extra checkpoint after
2 weeks. And the levels of calprotectin in poop did
increase. 7 of the subjects got above that threshold
at some point after drinking 100 milliliters of blood, while 10 did after drinking 300
milliliters. This means that if a doctor is using a calprotectin
test for IBD, some bleeding in your upper gut could lead to a positive diagnosis even if you don’t have it. The researchers suggested that looking at
the amount of calprotectin might be important to refine these tests. Because a significant IBD flare-up can result
in over 200 micrograms per gram. And these conclusions are still important
in medicine. Experts need to refine their tools to make
the best call they can. Thanks to Brilliant.org for supporting this
episode. Brilliant offer interactive lessons and quizzes
in math and science. If you’re wanting to think more like a medical
researcher working with vampire principles, then check out this logic lesson about pirates. Researchers have to fine tune the questions
they’re asking over time, and that’s exactly what you have to do to understand these logical, but selfish, sailors. It’s entertaining and challenging and who doesn’t want to pretend to be a highly intelligent pirate sometimes? Brilliant is offering the first 200 SciShow
viewers to sign up at Brilliant.org/SciShow 20% off an annual premium subscription. So check it out and see if you could think
like a pirate. Arrrr! [ ♪ Outro ]

88 thoughts on “Making Antivenom out of Human Antibodies | SciShow News

  1. I have crohns disease and the lowest my calprotectin has ever been was 113mg. The highest was over 2100mg and immeasurable, so I'd say it is a pretty good indicator that something is wrong

  2. Are they sure other factors are not also at play? Could it be possible the treatment does help mice but only because they have more of another protein as well? Blood drinking test seems logical since food and water intake are controlled and specimens can be analyzed routinely.

  3. So these test subjects had to drink their own blood, then someone else played around with their poop on the daily.

    Sounds like my college days.

  4. What about genetically engineering humans to produce that enzyme opossums make that just neutralizes ALL venoms?

  5. I know it is necessary to save lives but every time I hear about all the horrible animal tests we still do I feel pretty bad about it.

  6. WTF is google doing? I am seeing Matt from
    PBS SpaceTime presenting How to Detect Extra Dimensions | Space Time
    instead of 'anyone' from SciShow presenting the antivenom show

  7. Can we all just be glad nothing that can tear flesh off a corpse gained potent venom. Imagine a monitor lizard that could kill with a bite and then consume the corpse without having to swallow it.

  8. Wow! Snakes are so cool, and dangerous. It is so interesting how science is progressing to find an antivenom! Although these treatments are cool, I don't want to be the person to test it out! Thanks for the update! DFTBA!

  9. If we can make antivenom from human antibodies…
    Can we make venom from human bodies?
    I think that is how double negatives work ยฏ_(ใƒ„)_/ยฏ

  10. "Endoscopy can be uncomfortable."

    As anyone who has had a colonoscopy can attest, that's quite the understatement.

  11. Even if that test comes up positive, it just means they endoscopy you. I wouldn't use it as a full blown replacement. Once you get scoped, they'll know for sure so it should be used as a means to determine is a scope is necessary.

  12. I was once treated with equine sourced anti-venom. The doctor asked if my voice was hoarse, but I told him "Nay".

  13. Wait they testes human antibodies in mice???? What's the point of that? Shouldn't the point being "antibodies from the same species might be better"????

  14. re the Vampire test – this is a great example of why I became a programmer. While it's important, I'm really glad my career choices didn't result in me analyzing poop every day.

  15. 1:29 "Antivenoms that used multiple types of antibodies were more effective"

    That moment you really want to say "well, duh!" but then remembers your scientific method and that sometimes the obvious is not the true.

  16. So where would they get these human antibodies? Would they be grown in culture, or be produced by genetically modified bacteria, or would we just use poor people in the Third World as our new horses?

  17. The most important thing about mamba venom is that it contains compounds that act as painkillers, and unlike opioids, it's not addictive

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