A Portable Synthetic Material For Treating Venom-Induced Tissue Necrosis

Available Technologies
March 29, 2017 By Applied Innovation

At a Glance

This portable synthetic material can be applied in the field to treat the tissue necrosis associated with snake bites. It has potential first aid applications in both humans and animals.

Tech ID: 27370

POLYMER THERAPEUTICS – A Portable Synthetic Material For Treating Venom-Induced Tissue Necrosis

  • Prof. Ken Shea, Department of Chemistry,School of Physical Science
  • Jeffrey O’Brien, Department of Chemistry, School of Physical Sciences


  • Hydrogel in synthetic material may reduce rate of tissue necrosis
  • Can be applied in rural areas in the field, and has the potential to save lives and prevent disabilities

Technology Description

Of the 4.5 million snake bites that occur annually, 2.7 million are considered serious; over 100,000 people die, mostly in developing countries. Snake bites can lead to tissue necrosis, increasing the likelihood of lasting damage and disability. Snakebites generally occur in rural areas that lack treatment facilities. Snakebites are currently treated by serotherapy, in which serum is administered from an immunized animal. This requires knowledge of the specific antibody needed and access to a treatment facility.

Professor Ken Shea’s lab at UCI assembled polymer building blocks into porous nanoparticles that can bind to a wide range of toxins and PLA2 proteins, creating a synthetic material to treat tissue necrosis resulting from snakebites. The material contains a proprietary hydrogel, previously shown to sequester phospholipase A2 (PLA2), a major contributor to tissue necrosis. Poisonous snakes produce a wide variety of PLA2 proteins. This invention could potentially slow the rate of tissue necrosis, buying time for snakebite victims to reach treatment. The material offers greater versatility, storage, and shelf life than current anti-toxin methods, and creates the basis for a future platform that could convey a variety of anti-toxin therapeutics.

Suggested Use

Treating human snakebite victims and high-value livestock.

State of Development

In vitro testing demonstrated that this hydrogel formulation can sequester PLA2 proteins, a major contributor to tissue necrosis.

Patent Status: Patent Pending

About the Lead Inventors

Kenneth Shea is Professor of Chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences. His laboratory investigates the development and use of synthetic polymer antibodies for a range of biomolecules. Shea’s research focuses on synthetic, organic, polymer and materials chemistry with programs in synthetic methodology, new polymerization reactions, and polymer hydrogel nanoparticles. Jeff O’Brien is a doctoral student in the School of Physical Sciences.

Licensing officer: Maria Tkachuk email: maria.tkachuk@uci.edu

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