A team of pain researchers in the Charles Perkins Centre studied the most venomous creature on earth to learn how venom works and what causes pain. Researchers at the University of Sydney have discovered an antidote to the deadly sting delivered by the most venomous creature on earth – the Australian box jellyfish.
The Australian box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) has about 60 tentacles that can grow up to three metres long. Each tentacle has millions of microscopic hooks filled with venom.
Each box jellyfish carries enough venom to kill more than 60 humans.
A single sting to a human will cause necrosis of the skin, excruciating pain and, if the dose of venom is large enough, cardiac arrest and death within minutes.
Associate Professor Greg Neely and Dr Raymond (Man-Tat) Lau and their team of pain researchers at the Charles Perkins Centre were studying how the box jellyfish venom works when they made the discovery.
They uncovered a medicine that blocks the symptoms of a box jellyfish sting if administered to the skin within 15 minutes after contact.
The antidote was shown to work on human cells outside the body and then tested effectively on live mice. Researchers now hope to develop a topical application for humans.
“We were looking at how the venom works, to try to better understand how it causes pain. Using new CRISPR genome editing techniques we could quickly identify how this venom kills human cells. Luckily, there was already a drug that could act on the pathway the venom uses to kill cells, and when we tried this drug as a venom antidote on mice, we found it could block the tissue scarring and pain related to jellyfish stings,” said Associate Professor Neely. “It is super exciting.”
Published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, the study used CRISPR whole genome editing to identify how the venom works. Genome editing is a technology that allows scientists to add, remove or alter genetic material in an organism’s DNA.
In the study, the researchers took a vat of millions of human cells and knocked out a different human gene in each one. Then they added the box jellyfish venom – which kills cells at high doses – and looked for cells that survived. From the whole genome screening, the researchers identified human factors that are required for the venom to work.
“The jellyfish venom pathway we identified in this study requires cholesterol, and since there are lots of drugs available that target cholesterol, we could try to block this pathway to see how this impacted venom activity. We took one of those drugs, which we know is safe for human use, and we used it against the venom, and it worked,” said Dr Lau, who is the lead author on the paper. “It’s a molecular antidote.”
“It’s the first molecular dissection of how this type of venom works, and possible how any venom works,” Dr Lau said. “I haven’t seen a study like this for any other venom.”
“We know the drug will stop the necrosis, skin scarring and the pain completely when applied to the skin,” said Associate Professor Neely, who is the senior author on the paper. “We don’t know yet if it will stop a heart attack. That will need more research and we are applying for funding to continue this work.”
The Latest on: Box jellyfish
via Google News
The Latest on: Box jellyfish
- Ambo officer gives advice after spate of marine stingson January 6, 2020 at 11:00 am
Mr Smith said most tropical jellyfish could induce severe pain, and could even be life threatening. "In some cases there's been recorded cardiac arrests from marine envenomations of box jellyfish," he ...
- Jellyfish 'size of fist' wash up on popular Mackay beachon December 31, 2019 at 6:51 pm
UPDATE 2PM: WITH box jellyfish the size of a fist washing up in the Northern Beaches, Eimeo Surf Lifesaving Club president Ross Gee said it was disappointing to see residents gamble with their lives ...
- Lifeguards say people should protect themselves from jellyfishon December 30, 2019 at 9:52 pm
“It has happened before. It’s not a regular occurrence,” Mr Blanchard said. He believed the tentacle which stung the woman was from a hair jellyfish or a box jellyfish. Mr Blanchard said lifeguards ...
- Queensland: Irukandji jellyfish appear off Fraser Island western coaston December 29, 2019 at 9:50 pm
The extremely venomous species of box jellyfish is expected to stay in the water surrounding the Queensland beach for the next few days. A spokeswoman from the Hervey Bay Marine Rescue told Daily Mail ...
- Lifeguards catch highly venomous stingers off Townsville beacheson December 19, 2019 at 4:00 pm
POTENTIALLY deadly stingers have been caught off Townsville beaches as northerly winds continue to keep water temperatures high. Surf Life Saving Queensland Townsville lifeguard supervisor Russell ...
- How these deadly ‘smoothies’ are helping save liveson December 9, 2019 at 4:59 pm
Scientists from James Cook University have been busy within the past week collecting box jellyfish and irukandji jellyfish at Weipa and Palm Cove for a series of research projects. These box jellyfish ...
- Stung: Understanding jellyfish stingson November 26, 2019 at 8:31 pm
I spoke with him about his recent case study on a presumed box jellyfish sting, and his general interest in the field. "When we first conceptualized the specialty of wilderness medicine, I was most ...
- Box Jellyfish spotted at popular O'ahu beacheson November 21, 2019 at 2:05 pm
The City and County of Honolulu is warning the public of Box Jellyfish that have been spotted at Hanauma Bay, Waikiki, and the Magic Island side of Ala Moana Beach Park. Warning signs have been posted ...
- Warning signs for box jellyfish posted at 3 popular Oahu beacheson November 21, 2019 at 2:01 pm
Lifeguards posted box jellyfish warning signs for three popular Oahu beaches today. Box jellyfish were spotted at Hanauma Bay, Waikiki Beach and the Magic Island side of Ala Moana Beach Park today.
- Box jellyfish at some South Shore beacheson November 21, 2019 at 4:04 am
HONOLULU (KHON2) — Box jellyfish were spotted at Hanauma Bay, Waikiki and the Magic Island side of Ala Moana Beach Park. Lifeguards posted warning signs in these areas. There were a total of 19 stings ...
via Bing News