BOB HIRSHON (host):
A CSI snakebite test. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Snakebites claim the lives of tens of thousands of people each year, mostly in poor and developing countries. Inspired by forensic science, a multinational team of researchers has now developed a rapid DNA test that accurately identifies the type of snake from its bite. Goethe University biologist Ulrich Kuch explains.
ULRICH KUCH (Goethe University):
The test works like a standard crime scene investigation, we collect genetic evidence of the culprit – the snake – from the bite site, and we analyze that and find out the species of snake involved.
He says the test will help healthcare workers choose the appropriate anti-venom and anticipate species-specific complications. The next step will be to clinically validate the test in Burma and Nepal, where snakebites are a leading cause of death. The team presented their research at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.