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Snakebite venom expert joins WHO roster to address neglected issue – University of Reading

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Snakebite venom expert joins WHO roster to address neglected issue

Release Date 12 March 2021

Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri working in a lab

Millions around the world who face the risk of deadly and disabling venomous snakebites will benefit from experts helping the WHO to tackle the neglected issue.

The World Health Organisation has drawn together a roster of leading experts from around the world, including leading UK snakebite scientist Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri from the University of Reading. Dr Vaiyapuri will join other snakebite scientists to help enact the WHO’s strategy for stopping deaths from snakebites around the world.

Dr Vaiyapuri’s research is focused on new biomedical technology and treatments for venomous snakebites, and led a public health campaign in 2018 and 2019 in Southern India to educate rural communities about treating snakebites. The low-cost campaign reached more than 3 million residents and led to improved health outcomes for snakebite victims in the region.

Watch a video where Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri explains about his work raising awareness of the dangers of snakebites in rural Tamil Nadu, India here.

Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri, Associate Professor of at the Reading School of Pharmacy at the University of Reading said:

“I’m honoured to join the roster of experts to support the World Health Organisation to support their efforts to eradicate the impact of venomous snakebites around the world. Over the past 16 years I’ve been researching this deadly and neglected issue which leaves nearly half a million people permanently disabled largely as a result of viper bites and causes up to 140,000 fatalities each year.

“I have been specifically appointed for my expertise in working with rural communities in India, including my recent work on increasing public awareness about snakebites which engaged with various stakeholders.

“Through this project we have developed a robust multifaceted approach to improve awareness about snakebites in India. We are also working with various clinicians who treat snakebites, government officials, NGOs and snake rescuers or conservation biologists. I am excited to be providing expertise on community education and engaging with policy makers, as well as overall aspects of snakebite envenomation to the WHO.”

Snakebite expert Dr Sakthi Vaiyapuri will be joining a leading group of snakebite envenoming experts to help the WHO to more effectively tackle this global issue which kills around 140,000 people each year.

Dr Vaiyapuri’s long term goal is to create new treatments and testing technology to significantly reduce the number of deaths from venomous snakebites around the world. In 2020, he was awarded a fellowship from the Royal Society’s Leverhulme Trust to advance his research, focusing on the impact of viper venoms in muscle stem cells. The work will help Dr Vaiyapuri and a team of scientists to find new drugs to reduce or reverse the damage that these venoms have on human muscle.

Read more about Dr Vaiyapuri’s campaign to raise awareness about snakebites at: https://research.reading.ac.uk/research-blog/spreading-the-word-about-snakebite/

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