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UK Chosen as Site for Innovative Snakebite Study


Ophirex, a public benefit corporation focused on global health, is working to improve outcomes for victims of snakebites by developing an affordable, accessible, oral treatment for immediate use anywhere a bite occurs. That's where Varespladib comes in. Varespladib is an oral medication that mitigates the effects of snake venom by binding to the major mediator of the venom's toxicity.

Ophirex recently initiated its BRAVO clinical trial — a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of a multi-dose regimen of oral Varespladib in subjects bitten by venomous snakes. We are proud to say that the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital has been chosen as a participating site for this cutting edge treatment, and as such, our Emergency Department will be among the first in the world to provide a dose of Varespladib to snakebite victims (aged 5 and older) from across the Commonwealth. The study is designed to enroll approximately 100 subjects in the United States and India with suspected or confirmed venomous snakebites, likely including victims of rattlesnake, copperhead, cottonmouth, coral snake, krait, saw-scaled viper, Russell’s viper, and cobra bites. Subjects will be randomized into two groups to have oral Varespladib or placebo administered (in addition to institutional standard of care) and will be assessed by Snakebite Severity Score (SSS) plus a physician-based assessment of change, as well as vigilant monitoring of patient status to be sure of their safety. After seeing the promising outcomes from the previous trials for this medication, we are hoping to see the same quick reversal of the effects of the venom for our patients.


This triumph is credited to the remarkable research team in our Emergency Department. The Primary Investigator for our site is Dr. Peter Akpunonu, Co-Medical Director of ER and Director of Toxicology. The Sub Investigators are Dr. Roger Humphries, ED Dept. Chair; Dr. Sameer Desai, Residency Program Director; Dr. Joel Hamm, Co-Medical Director of ER; and Dr. Craig Carter, Associate Professor. Our clinical nurse researchers Theresa Mims, RN and Ronda Petrey, RN played a vital role in bringing this study to our facility. Congratulations, UKEM Research Team! We applaud your efforts to keep the University of Kentucky Emergency Department on the cutting edge of patient care innovations.

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