Introducing the Asclepius Snakebite Foundation
International Team of Snakebite Treatment Experts Commits to Tackling “Most Neglected of Tropical Diseases”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 19th, 2018 -- An international team of snakebite treatment experts including Dr. Jean-Philippe Chippaux, a physician-scientist at the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Pasteur Institute; Dr. Leslie Boyer, founding Director of the VIPER Institute; Dr. Ben Abo, medical director of the elite Venom One and Venom Two emergency response teams; and other leading researchers in herpetology, venomics, and public health from around the world has joined forces to create Asclepius Snakebite Foundation (ASF), a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the incidence of death and disability caused by snakebite envenoming worldwide. The foundation’s name is inspired by the Greek god of medicine, whose snake-coiled staff has long been associated with the medical profession.
Snakebite has been called the most neglected of tropical diseases, with more than 600,000 people killed or maimed by snakebites every year worldwide. Many of these tragic outcomes could be averted with effective antivenom use, yet it is estimated that less than 5% of patients receive lifesaving treatment. ASF is on a mission to reverse those tragic statistics through a combination of innovative research, clinical medicine, and education-based public health initiatives.
Going Where the Need Is Greatest
“I am excited about the all-star team we have assembled and the partnerships we have established to address this critical need,” says ASF Founder and Executive Director Jordan Benjamin. “We will be traveling into the field to treat snakebite patients, establish clinics, train local providers, conduct clinical research, and implement public health education initiatives where the need is greatest. Everything we do is conducted alongside local partners to ensure that they are given the training, tools, and capabilities to become leaders in snakebite treatment for their communities.” ASF is dispatching a team of researchers to the West African country of Guinea later this year to establish a dedicated snakebite center and launch the first multidisciplinary, prospective study of neurotoxic snake envenomations on the continent. Primary goals of the Guinea study will be to identify some of the factors responsible for the high case fatality rate that has been observed in these patients and to identify novel strategies for improving the clinical management of these patients in the field.
Life Saving Partnerships
Many rural clinics in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world lack the basic medical supplies required to effectively manage snakebite patients. Remote Medical International (RMI), a leading provider of occupational health and remote medical support worldwide, has agreed to make regular donations of medications, equipment, and supplies to ASF in support of our projects around the world.
ASF has also received support from Inosan Biopharma, an independent antivenom producer, to enable us to provide a new generation of field-stable polyvalent antivenoms for sub-Saharan Africa to the areas where they are needed most. This is a groundbreaking product that can be stored at room temperature and given by direct intravenous push in poorly equipped rural areas where 95% of snakebites occur, enabling the treatment of snakebite patients in remote locations where it was previous not possible to reliably do so.
Free Resources for Medical Professionals
The foundation’s website (www.snakebitefoundation.org) provides additional information about current foundation projects and team members and also provides a series of free resources for civilian and military medical professionals working in remote areas around the world. These resources include downloadable treatment algorithms, clinic posters, and clinical guidelines to facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prolonged field care of patients bitten by an unknown snake species for non-experts tasked with managing these complex cases in austere environments.
Asclepius Snakebite Foundation (ASF) is an international team of clinicians and scientists on a mission to reverse the cycle of tragic snakebite outcomes through a combination of innovative research, clinical medicine, and education-based public health initiatives. ASF is a certified 501(c)3 non-profit organization. www.snakebitefoundation.org
Jordan Benjamin, Founder and Executive Director
Asclepius Snakebite Foundation