Fighting the World's Most Neglected Tropical Disease
An emergency physician, neuroscientist, expedition doctor, and California Academy of Sciences Fellow, Dr. Matthew Lewin founded Ophirex, Inc. (“Ophi” is Greek for “snake”) to focus on developing field treatments for snakebite—one of the most significant and neglected medical crises facing the developing world. Ophirex is committed to providing low-cost antidotes to the developing world so that treatment for any snakebite can begin anywhere, anytime, by anyone—with no special knowledge.
This lecture will focus on the origins of the Ophirex project and its relationship to the California Academy of Sciences. An exclusive preview of “Minutes to Die,” a new documentary featuring the participation of Dr. Lewin, will also be screened.
Worldwide, there are more than 5 million snakebites each year, killing as many as 100,000 people. An additional 400,000 suffer snakebite-related disability and disfigurement, leading to deeper economic devastation among already impoverished populations. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has identified snakebite as one of the most significant—and neglected—medical crises facing the globe, compounded by shortages of anti-venom, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Enter Dr. Matthew Lewin, a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, and world-renowned snakebite researcher. Dr. Lewin identified sPLA2 inhibitors as a potential inhibitor of a broad spectrum of snake venom sPLA2s—one of the most universally present and lethal components of snake venoms. He also demonstrated potency against 28 snake venom sPLA2s from six continents and has conducted pre-clinical studies showing excellent survival prospects, which were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Toxins. Watch for Dr. Lewin discussing the urgency of the global snakebite epidemic in “Minutes to Die,” a new documentary premiering in 2017 and narrated by Mike Rowe.
"Fighting the World's Most Neglected Tropical Disease" is part of the Academy's Claire Matzger Lilienthal Distinguished Lecture Series.