Dimercaprol, an old drug used to treat mercury poisoning, and its derivative 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS) have been found effective against some snake bites in test tube experiments. The researchers also showed they were effective in laboratory animals exposed to snake venom. This is promising for their use in humans.
An advantage of this treatment is that it is given orally, hence can be administered in the field and followed by anti-venom, which is given as an infusion, after the victim reaches a health center.
Snake bites are a priority neglected tropical disease, according to the WHO. About 138,000 people die every year following snake bites while about 400,000 suffer permanent disability such as loss of limb.