Khochare, Suyog, et al. “Fangs in the Ghats: Preclinical Insights into the Medical Importance of Pit Vipers from the Western Ghats.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 24.11 (2023): 9516. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms24119516
The socioeconomic impact of snakebites in India is largely attributed to a subset of snake species commonly known as the ‘big four’. However, envenoming by a range of other clinically important yet neglected snakes, a.k.a. the ‘neglected many’, also adds to this burden. The current approach of treating bites from these snakes with the ‘big four’ polyvalent antivenom is ineffective. While the medical significance of various species of cobras, saw-scaled vipers, and kraits is well-established, the clinical impact of pit vipers from regions such as the Western Ghats, northeastern India, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands remains poorly understood. Amongst the many species of snakes found in the Western Ghats, the hump-nosed (Hypnale hypnale), Malabar (Craspedocephalus malabaricus), and bamboo (Craspedocephalus gramineus) pit vipers can potentially inflict severe envenoming. To evaluate the severity of toxicity inflicted by these snakes, we characterised their venom composition, biochemical and pharmacological activities, and toxicity- and morbidity-inducing potentials, including their ability to damage kidneys. Our findings highlight the therapeutic inadequacies of the Indian and Sri Lankan polyvalent antivenoms in neutralising the local and systemic toxicity resulting from pit viper envenomings.