The venom of the banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus), one of the major venomous species in Taiwan, contains neurotoxic venom proteins (B. multicinctus proteins) that pose a serious medical problem in tropical and subtropical countries. Even though horse-derived serum is an efficient therapy against snake venom, it is associated with a high cost and side effects. Therefore, developing a more cost-effective alternative treatment option is highly envisaged. In this study, chickens were immunized with B. multicinctus proteins, and polyclonal immunoglobulin Y (IgY) antibodies were purified from eggs. IgY showed a binding activity to B. multicinctus proteins that was similar to horse antivenin, and its titer in chickens lasted for at least 6 months. We constructed two antibody libraries by phage display antibody technology, which contain 1.0×107 and 2.9×108 transformants, respectively. After biopanning, a phage-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) indicated that specific clones were enriched. Thirty randomly selected clones expressing monoclonal single-chain variable-fragment (scFv) antibodies were classified into four groups with a short linker and two with a long linker. These selected scFv antibodies showed specific binding activities to B. multicinctus proteins but not to the venomous proteins of other snakes. Most importantly, polyclonal IgY demonstrated a similar neutralization efficiency as did horse-derived antivenin in mice that were injected with a minimum lethal dosage (MLD) of venom proteins. A mixture of several monoclonal anti-B. multicinctus scFv antibodies was also able to partially inhibit the lethal effect on mice. We profoundly believe that IgY and scFv antibodies can be applied in developing diagnostic agents for wound exudates and as an alternative treatment for snakebite envenomation in the future.
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