An International team of researchers have sequenced the genome of the Indian cobra, in the process identifying the genes that define its venom.

 Present situation about Anti-venoms:

  • Anti-venoms efficacy varies with producing side effects.
  • In India, the challenge has been producing anti-venom for the species known collectively as the “big four”,
    1. The Indian cobra (Naja naja)
    2. Common krait (Bungarus caeruleus)
    3. Russell’s viper (Daboia russelii)
    4. Saw-scaled viper (Echis carinatus)
  • Common anti-venom is marketed for the treatment of bites from the “big four”, but its effectiveness came under question in a recent study.
  • The common anti-venom worked against the saw-scaled viper and the common cobra.
  • But this anti-venom fell short against some neglected species and also against one of the “big four” – the common krait.


Challenges in producing Anti-venom:

  • Venom is a complex mixture of an estimated 140 odd protein or peptides.
  • Only some of these constituents are toxins that cause the physiological symptoms seen after snakebite.
  • But anti-venom available today does not target these toxins specifically.
  • Anti-venom is currently produced by a century old process called “Horse Technique”
  • Horse Technique: In this technique, a small amount of venom is injected into a horse or sheep, which produces antibodies that are then collected and developed into anti-venom.


Problems in Horse Technique:

  • It is expensive, cumbersome technique and comes with complications.
  • Some of the antibodies raised from the horse may be completely irrelevant.
  • The horse also has a lot of antibodies floating in its blood that have nothing to do with the venom toxins.
  • Our Immune system recognises horse antibodies as foreign and when anti-venom is given our body mounts an antibody response. This lead to serum sickness.



  • This genome sequence can provide a blueprint for developing more effective anti-venom.
  • The cobra genome sequence is of really high quality.
  • Sequence information of the genes that code for venom proteins is very important for the production of recombinant anti-venoms.
  • In the Indian cobra genome, the researchers have identified 19 toxin genes, in that only one that should be addressed for snakebite treatment. This decoding will help to create a safe and effective anti-venom using synthetic human antibodies.