Scorpion venom is composed among other things of a large number of neurotoxic peptides affecting all major types of ion channels. The majority of the toxicity of the venom is attributed to the presence of these peptides. In our previous studies using a combination of HPLC and mass spectrometry, we showed that birtoxin like peptides are the major peptidic components of the venom of Parabuthus transvaalicus. These peptides are quite similar to each other differing by only few amino acid residues. In addition they all share a common N-terminus of eighteen amino acid residues. We hypothesize that neutralization of this domain will decrease the toxicity of the whole venom of P. transvaalicus. Polyclonal antibodies against the common N-terminal region of the peptides are generated. Here we show by bioassays that the polyclonal antibodies neutralize the venom of P. transvaalicus in a dose dependent manner and by mass spectrometry and western blotting that these peptides indeed react with the polyclonal antibodies. Previously antibodies generated against a single major toxic component of venom have proven to be an effective strategy for antivenin production. In the case of P. transvaalicus the generated antibody is against the majority of the peptidic fraction due to the presence of several highly similar and highly toxic components in this venom. We show that using the knowledge obtained through biochemical characterization studies it is possible to design very specific antibodies that will be useful for clinical applications against Parabuthus envenomation.
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