Presented by : Leslie V. Boyer,
The University of Arizona
Thursday, November 10, 2011
5:30 PM Reception and Refreshments, 6:00 PM Presentation
College of Southern Nevada
D Building, Room 101
6375 West Charleston Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146
Visitors are Welcome
Leslie V. Boyer, MD
Director VIPER Institute
The University of Arizona
Biography: Leslie Boyer, MD, is the founding Director of the VIPER Institute. She is a world authority on snake and insect venoms. She is the Principal Investigator for the multicenter scorpion antivenom clinical studies program conducted throughout Arizona, including protocols for placebo-controlled, double-blind trials, open-label studies, historical control studies, and the statewide STING project. She has coordinated phase 2 and phase 3 multicenter clinical trials of pit viper antivenom, developed the Antivenom Index, and participated in the establishment of the Pan-American Lymphotoxinology Taskforce.
Abstract: After a scorpion stings your bare foot (Ouch!), venom quickly takes. 'Your nerves fire away. Your muscles contract, and you jerk and twitch and dance around.
The sting of the bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus) can cause severe nerve poisoning, especially when the victim is a small child. In the United States, severe cases are very rare, affecting perhaps 250 people per year. But just to the south of Arizona, and extending all the way through the western half of Mexico, an additional quarter of a million people need treatment for scorpion sting annually.
In Tucson's pediatric intensive care units, VIPER doctors and nurses conducted a one-of-a-kind study of scorpion sting. Over the course of two years, children with severe scorpion sting symptoms were given the opportunity to participate in the most rigidly controlled type of study of an investigational new drug: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Results of this study, funded by the United States FDA's Office of Orphan Products Development, showed that children who are treated with antivenom recover faster and need less sedative medication than children who receive intensive care alone. After receiving antivenom, children also had lower levels of scorpion venom detectable in their bloodstream, a finding that may lead to better drug development in the future
From the moment of a good idea to the reality of a marketable drug, products in the United States typically take well over 10 years of hard work. Drug companies in general will spend tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to prove the safety and effectiveness of their products. For a condition with only a few hundred patients per year, the testing challenge is greater but the potential for profit is smaller. It is obvious why most US drug manufacturers prefer not to take on the burden of antivenom production: the numbers do not add up to a good business decision.
On the left, our most dynamic speaker of the year. No one went to sleep during this talk. Nevada and Arizona are the only states with scorpions that have life threatening stings. Development of an antivenom it turns out was anything but dull.