Nicholas R Casewell

Nicholas R Casewell
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine · Department of Parasitology

PhD

About

218
Publications
70,868
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
5,351
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2014 - March 2017
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2014 - March 2017
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Position
  • Professor (Associate)

Publications

Publications (218)
Article
Full-text available
Background Snakebite is a major public health concern in Eswatini, where treatment relies upon one antivenom–SAIMR Polyvalent. Although effective in treating snakebite, SAIMR Polyvalent is difficult to source outside its manufacturing country (South Africa) and is dauntingly expensive. We compared the preclinical venom-neutralising efficacy of two...
Article
Full-text available
Bites by elapid snakes (e.g. cobras) can result in life-threatening paralysis caused by venom neurotoxins blocking neuromuscular nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Here, we determine the cryo-EM structure of the muscle-type Torpedo receptor in complex with ScNtx, a recombinant short-chain α-neurotoxin. ScNtx is pinched between loop C on the princip...
Article
Venoms are evolutionary novelties that have real-world implications due to their impact upon human health. However, relative to the abundant studies of elapid and viperid snake venoms, fewer investigations have been undertaken on those of rear-fanged snakes as they are more problematic for obtaining venom. While most rear-fanged venomous snakes are...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that causes considerable death and disability in the tropical world. Although snakebite can cause a variety of pathologies in victims, haemotoxic effects are particularly common and are typically characterised by haemorrhage and/or venom-induced consumption coagulopathy. Antivenoms are the mainstay therapy...
Article
Full-text available
Antivenom is currently the first-choice treatment for snakebite envenoming. However, only a low proportion of antivenom immunoglobulins are specific to venom toxins, resulting in poor dose efficacy and potency. We sought to investigate whether linear venom epitopes displayed on virus like particles can stimulate an antibody response capable of reco...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that causes high rates of global mortality and morbidity. Although snakebite can cause a variety of pathologies in victims, haemotoxic effects are particularly common and are typically characterised by haemorrhage and/or venom-induced consumption coagulopathy. Despite polyclonal antibody-based antivenoms be...
Article
Full-text available
Background Venoms are ecological innovations that have evolved numerous times, on each occasion accompanied by the co-evolution of specialised morphological and behavioural characters for venom production and delivery. The close evolutionary interdependence between these characters is exemplified by animals that control the composition of their sec...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite envenoming affects more than 250,000 people annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Envenoming by Dispholidus typus (boomslang) results in venom-induced consumption coagulopathy (VICC), whereby highly abundant prothrombin-activating snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) consume clotting factors and deplete fibrinogen. The only available treatmen...
Preprint
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that causes considerable death and disability in the tropical world. Although snakebite can cause a variety of pathologies in victims, haemotoxic effects are particularly common and are typically characterised by haemorrhage and/or venom-induced consumption coagulopathy. Antivenoms are the mainstay therapy...
Preprint
Full-text available
Morbidity from snakebite envenoming affects approximately 400,000 people annually. Tissue damage at the bite-site often leaves victims with catastrophic life-long injuries and is largely untreatable by currently available antivenoms. Repurposing small molecule drugs that inhibit specific snake venom toxins offers a potential new treatment strategy...
Preprint
Background Snakebite is a major public health concern in Eswatini, where treatment relies upon one antivenom – SAIMR Polyvalent. Although effective in treating snakebite, SAIMR Polyvalent is difficult to source outside its manufacturing country (South Africa) and is dauntingly expensive. We compared the preclinical venom-neutralising efficacy of tw...
Preprint
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that causes high rates of global mortality and morbidity. Although snakebite can cause a variety of pathologies in victims, haemotoxic effects are particularly common and are typically characterised by haemorrhage and/or venom-induced consumption coagulopathy. Despite polyclonal antibody-based antivenoms be...
Article
Full-text available
Convergence is the phenomenon whereby similar phenotypes evolve independently in different lineages. One example is resistance to toxins in animals. Toxins have evolved many times throughout the tree of life. They disrupt molecular and physiological pathways in target species, thereby incapacitating prey or deterring a predator. In response, molecu...
Article
Snake envenoming causes rapid systemic and local effects that often result in fatal or long-term disability outcomes. It seems likely that acute phase and inflammatory responses contribute to these haemorrhagic, coagulopathic, neurotoxic, nephrotoxic and local tissue destructive pathologies. However, the contributory role of acute phase/inflammator...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Snakebites affect over 5 million people each year, and over 100,000 per year die as a result. The only available treatment is antivenom, which has many shortcomings including high cost, intravenous administration, and high risk of adverse events. One of the most abundant and harmful components of viper venoms are the zinc-dependent snak...
Preprint
Full-text available
Among venomous animals, toxic secretions have evolved as biochemical weapons associated with various highly specialized delivery systems on many occasions. Despite extensive research, there is still limited knowledge of the functional biology of most animal toxins, including their venom production and storage, as well as the morphological structure...
Preprint
Full-text available
Snakebite envenoming affects more than 250,000 people annually in sub-Saharan Africa. Envenoming by Dispholidus typus (boomslang) results in venom induced consumption coagulopathy, whereby highly abundant prothrombin-activating snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) consume clotting factors and deplete fibrinogen. The only available treatment for D...
Article
Full-text available
The snake genus Daboia (Viperidae: Viperinae; Oppel, 1811) contains five species: D. deserti, D. mauritanica, and D. palaestinae, found in Afro-Arabia, and the Russell’s vipers D. russelii and D. siamensis, found in Asia. Russell’s vipers are responsible for a major proportion of the medically important snakebites that occur in the regions they inh...
Article
Full-text available
Molecular genetic data have recently been incorporated in attempts to reconstruct the ecology of the ancestral snake, though this has been limited by a paucity of data for one of the two main extant snake taxa, the highly fossorial Scolecophidia. Here we present and analyse vision genes from the first eye transcriptomic and genome-wide data for Sco...
Preprint
Full-text available
Antivenom is currently the first-choice treatment for snakebite envenoming. However, only a low proportion of antivenom immunoglobulins are specific to venom toxins, resulting in poor dose efficacy and potency. We sought to investigate whether linear venom epitopes displayed on virus like particles can stimulate a robust and focused antibody respon...
Article
Full-text available
Background Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that causes high global rates of mortality and morbidity. Although snakebite can cause a variety of pathologies in victims, haemotoxic effects are particularly common and are typically characterised by haemorrhage and/or venom-induced consumption coagulopathy. Antivenoms are the mainstay therapeu...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Snakebite is a priority neglected tropical disease and causes a range of complications that vary depending on the snake species. Randomised clinical trials have used varied outcome measures that do not allow results to be compared or combined. In accordance with the Core Outcomes Measurements in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) initiative,...
Article
Full-text available
A global strategy, under the coordination of the World Health Organization, is being unfolded to reduce the impact of snakebite envenoming. One of the pillars of this strategy is to ensure safe and effective treatments. The mainstay in the therapy of snakebite envenoming is the administration of animal-derived antivenoms. In addition, new therapeut...
Article
Full-text available
Venoms are a rich source of potential lead compounds for drug discovery, and descriptive studies of venom form the first phase of the biodiscovery process. In this study, we investigated the pharmacological potential of crude Pseudocerastes and Eristicophis snake venoms in haematological disorders and cancer treatment. We assessed their antithrombo...
Article
Full-text available
Bites from elapid snakes typically result in neurotoxic symptoms in snakebite victims. Neurotoxins are, therefore, often the focus of research relating to understanding the pathogenesis of elapid bites. However, recent evidence suggests that some elapid snake venoms contain anticoagulant toxins which may help neurotoxic components spread more rapid...
Article
Full-text available
Venom spitting is a defence mechanism based on airborne venom delivery used by a number of different African and Asian elapid snake species ('spitting cobras'; Naja spp. and Hemachatus spp.). Adaptations underpinning venom spitting have been studied extensively at both behavioural and morphological level in cobras, but the role of the physical prop...
Article
Full-text available
Facultative parthenogenesis (FP) is widespread in the animal kingdom. In vertebrates it was first described in poultry nearly 70 years ago, and since then reports involving other taxa have increased considerably. In the last two decades, numerous reports of FP have emerged in elasmobranch fishes and squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes), including...
Article
Full-text available
Background Snakebite in India results in over 58,000 fatalities and a vast number of morbidities annually. The majority of these clinically severe envenomings are attributed to Russell’s viper ( Daboia russelii ), which has a near pan-India distribution. Unfortunately, despite its medical significance, the influence of biogeography on the compositi...
Article
Snakebite envenoming is responsible for as many as 138 000 deaths annually, making it the world’s most lethal neglected tropical disease (NTD). There is an urgent need to improve snakebite treatment, which currently relies on outdated and poorly tolerated biologic antivenoms that are often weakly efficacious, must be given intravenously in a health...
Article
Full-text available
Background Snake venom composition is dictated by various ecological and environmental factors, and can exhibit dramatic variation across geographically disparate populations of the same species. This molecular diversity can undermine the efficacy of snakebite treatments, as antivenoms produced against venom from one population may fail to neutrali...
Article
Full-text available
Snakes of the genera Pseudocerastes and Eristicophis (Viperidae: Viperinae) are known as the desert vipers due to their association with the arid environments of the Middle East. These species have received limited research attention and little is known about their venom or ecology. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of desert viper venoms was...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite is classified as a priority Neglected Tropical Disease by the World Health Organization. Understanding the pathology of individual snake venom toxins is of great importance when developing more effective snakebite therapies. Snake venoms may induce a range of different pathologies, including haemolytic activity. Although snake venom-induc...
Article
More than 400,000 people each year suffer adverse effects following bites from venomous snakes. However, snake venom is also a rich source of bioactive molecules with known or potential therapeutic applications. Manually ‘milking’ snakes is the most common method to obtain venom. Safer alternative methods to produce venom would facilitate the produ...
Article
Full-text available
Convergent evolution provides insights into the selective drivers underlying evolutionary change. Snake venoms, with a direct genetic basis and clearly defined functional phenotype, provide a model system for exploring the repeated evolution of adaptations. While snakes use venom primarily for predation, and venom composition often reflects diet sp...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite is a medical emergency causing high mortality and morbidity in rural tropical communities that typically experience delayed access to unaffordable therapeutics. Viperid snakes are responsible for the majority of envenomings, but extensive interspecific variation in venom composition dictates that different antivenom treatments are used in...
Article
Full-text available
The intravenous administration of polyclonal antibodies known as antivenom is the only effective treatment for snakebite envenomed victims, but because of inter-specific variation in the toxic components of snake venoms, these therapies have variable efficacies against different snake species and/or different populations of the same species. In thi...
Article
Full-text available
The Zoonomia Project is investigating the genomics of shared and specialized traits in eutherian mammals. Here we provide genome assemblies for 131 species, of which all but 9 are previously uncharacterized, and describe a whole-genome alignment of 240 species of considerable phylogenetic diversity, comprising representatives from more than 80% of...
Article
Full-text available
Repurposing small molecule drugs and drug candidates is considered as a promising approach to revolutionise the treatment of snakebite envenoming. In this study, we investigated the inhibiting effects of the small molecules varespladib (nonspecific phospholipase A2 inhibitor), marimastat (broad spectrum matrix metalloprotease inhibitor) and dimerca...
Article
Full-text available
Background The World Health Organization’s strategy to halve snakebite mortality and morbidity by 2030 includes an emphasis on a risk-benefit process assessing the preclinical efficacy of antivenoms manufactured for sub-Saharan Africa. To assist this process, we systematically collected, standardised and analysed all publicly available data on the...
Article
Full-text available
Animal-derived antivenoms are the only specific therapies currently available for the treatment of snake envenoming, but these products have a number of limitations associated with their efficacy, safety and affordability for use in tropical snakebite victims. Small molecule drugs and drug candidates are regarded as promising alternatives for filli...
Article
Full-text available
In the field of antivenom research, development, and manufacture, it is often advised to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for the production, control, and regulation of snake antivenom immunoglobulins, which recommend the use of preincubation assays to assess the efficacy of snakebite therapeutics. In these assays, venom and...
Preprint
Full-text available
Convergent evolution provides unparalleled insights into the selective drivers underlying evolutionary change. While snakes use venom primarily for predation, and venom composition often reflects diet specificity, three lineages of spitting cobras have independently evolved the ability to use venom as a defensive projectile. Using gene, protein and...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite envenoming is a major neglected tropical disease that affects millions of people every year. The only effective treatment against snakebite envenoming consists of unspecified cocktails of polyclonal antibodies purified from the plasma of immunized production animals. Currently, little data exists on the molecular interactions between veno...
Article
Full-text available
Phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes are important toxins found in many snake venoms, and they can exhibit a variety of toxic activities including causing hemolysis and/or anticoagulation. In this study, the inhibiting effects of the small molecule PLA2 inhibitor varespladib on snake venom PLA2s was investigated by nanofractionation analytics, which com...
Preprint
Full-text available
Animal-derived antivenoms are the only specific therapies currently available for the treatment of snake envenoming, but these products have a number of limitations associated with their efficacy, safety and affordability for use in tropical snakebite victims. Small molecule drugs and drug candidates are regarded as promising alternatives for filli...
Article
Many organisms, ranging from plants to mammals, contain phospholipase A2 enzymes (PLA2s), which catalyze the production of lysophospholipids and fatty acid proinflammatory mediators. PLA2s are also common constituents of animal venoms, including bees, scorpions and snakes, and they cause a wide variety of toxic effects including neuro-, myo-, cyto-...
Article
Full-text available
Snake venoms are mixtures of toxins that vary extensively between and within snake species. This variability has serious consequences for the management of the world’s 1.8 million annual snakebite victims. Advances in ‘omic’ technologies have empowered toxinologists to comprehensively characterize snake venom compositions, unravel the molecular mec...
Article
Full-text available
A central goal in biology is to determine the ways in which evolution repeats itself. One of the most remarkable examples in nature of convergent evolutionary novelty is animal venom. Across diverse animal phyla, various specialized organs and anatomical structures have evolved from disparate developmental tissues to perform the same function, i.e....
Preprint
Full-text available
Snakebite is a medical emergency causing high mortality and morbidity in rural tropical communities that typically experience delayed access to unaffordable therapeutics. Viperid snakes are responsible for the majority of envenomings, but extensive interspecific variation in venom composition dictates that different antivenom treatments are used in...
Article
Snakebite envenoming causes 138,000 deaths annually, and ~400,000 victims are left with permanent disabilities. Envenoming by saw-scaled vipers (Viperidae: Echis ) leads to systemic hemorrhage and coagulopathy and represents a major cause of snakebite mortality and morbidity in Africa and Asia. The only specific treatment for snakebite, antivenom,...
Article
Snakes are descended from highly visual lizards [1] but have limited (probably dichromatic) color vision attributed to a dim-light lifestyle of early snakes [2, 3, 4]. The living species of front-fanged elapids, however, are ecologically very diverse, with ∼300 terrestrial species (cobras, taipans, etc.) and ∼60 fully marine sea snakes, plus eight...
Article
Full-text available
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that results in a variety of systemic and local pathologies in envenomed victims and is responsible for around 138,000 deaths every year. Many snake venoms cause severe coagulopathy that makes victims vulnerable to suffering life-threating haemorrhage. The mechanisms of action of coagulopathic snake venom t...
Article
Full-text available
Four peptides with cytotoxic activity against BRIN-BD11 rat clonal β-cells were purified from the venom of the black-necked spitting cobra Naja nigricollis using reversed-phase HPLC. The peptides were identified as members of the three-finger superfamily of snake toxins by ESI-MS/MS sequencing of tryptic peptides. The most potent peptide (cytotoxin...