Science

Researchers discover an antidote to deadly Australian box jellyfish sting

Researchers discover an antidote to deadly Australian box jellyfish sting”

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Strong currents and sharks aren't the only threat to saltwater swimmers in Australia.

It's unclear exactly how often people are killed by box jellyfish stings.

Researchers, from the University of Sydney, when investigating how pain works have uncovered an antidote to the deadly sting delivered by the Australian box jellyfish, said to be most venomous creature on Earth.

The treatment in question?

Researchers at the University of Sydney have found an antidote for the sting of the jellyfish - which carries enough venom to kill more than 60 people. One sting from the jellyfish to a human triggers necrosis of the skin, bad pain and, with high doses of the toxin, cardiac arrest and death.

"Our antidote is a medicine that blocks the venom and you need to get it onto the site within 15 minutes".

The team found that in the mice and human cells, their antidote prevented skin necrosis, scarring, and pain.

"We were looking at how the venom works, to try to better understand how it causes pain", Dr. Neely said. Using CRISPR genome editing technologies, they essentially removed a different human gene from each of millions of human cells, introduced the venom, and saw which ones weren't killed, reports the Australian Associated Press.

Ten genes were identified that the venom needed for its action pathways, with four of these part of the pathway that makes cholesterol in cells.

Cyclodextrins acts like a "cholesterol sponge", according to Neely and if it is applied within 15 minutes of a box jellyfish sting, then it blocks the venom attacking cells and travelling in the body. "It's a molecular antidote".

"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", Lead author of the study Raymond Lau explained.

"We studied the biggest, most venomous and scary one", one of the study's authors, associate professor Greg Neely said. Neely. However, the researchers have yet to determine whether the drug can stop a heart attack. They are now applying for funding to further their research. Now, researchers have discovered an antidote to the sea wasp's lethal sting.

The deadly animal lives in the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region and northern Australia.

The discovery is described in a paper published online April 30 in the journal Nature Communications. The Australian box jellyfish has roughly 60 tentacles that can stretch up to 10 feet in length and are studded with microscopic hooks containing venom.



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