An integrative approach for improving the immunization of horses for the production of antivenoms


  • Prof José María Gutiérrez

    University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica

  • Dr Guillermo León

    University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica

Project summary

Animal-derived antivenoms are the mainstay in the therapy of snakebite envenoming. There is an urgent need to develop knowledge-based protocols for the immunization of horses, as this key aspect of production has lacked research and innovation. This project is aimed at developing protocols for the management of horses used for immunization with venoms in a pilot farm.

The following aspects will be investigated:

(1) Evaluation of feeding protocols;

(2) veterinary care and management aimed at minimizing the deleterious effects of venoms;

(3) selection of the most appropriate adjuvants for immunization and development of new immunization schemes for generating high antibody titers;

(4) design of bleeding protocols providing a high yield of plasma while not affecting the overall condition of horses.

The project is also aimed at selecting the best combination of venoms from African snakes in order to generate a polyspecific antivenom of wide neutralizing coverage, as well as to device ways to improve the antibody titers against poorly immunogenic low molecular mass neurotoxins from snake venoms. In order to apply the principle of 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) in the assessment of antivenom potency, in vitro tests will be evaluated for their correlation with in vivo toxicity assays.