Testing the Safety of a Metal Poisoning Drug to Treat Snakebite in Kenya

Adult, Current Research, Developing World, Dr. Hamaluba, Drug, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Minority/Underserved, Other, ReGRoW

Principal Investigator: Dr. Mainga Hamaluba

Disease: Snakebite

Research Description: Every year, over 5 million people worldwide suffer from snakebite, which is fatal in over 100,000 individuals. Treatment costs and long-term disability can be devastating for survivors and their families, who are frequently living in poverty. The only treatment for snakebite is antivenom, which is not readily available in areas of highest need, is expensive, must be given as an injection, causes severe allergic reactions and only works against certain snake species. Unithiol is an oral generic drug used to treat metal poisoning, and unithiol recently has been found to inactivate the venom of some of the world’s most dangerous snakes. The research team will conduct a Phase I safety study among healthy volunteers in Kilifi, Kenya, an area with a high burden of snakebites. This research will be the first time an orally administered snake venom inhibitor has been tested in humans and represents long overdue progress in treatment for this important and neglected disease. Positive safety and proof of concept data from this trial can be used as a basis for a larger, Phase II follow-on trial.

Funding Partners: ReGRoW Funders

CWR funding role: Primary funder


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