Scientists at the University of Sydney have found a probable antidote for the sting of the world’s deadliest sea creature. The Australian jellyfish is travelling across tropical waters with three-meter-long tentacles. It has around 60 tentacles that are ready to give a painful, and probably dangerous poison. The creature mostly resides in coastal waters around the Philippines and the north and west of Australia. Each tentacle hosts millions of tiny microscopic claws filled with the toxin. Reportedly, the jellyfish carries such a quantity of poison that could kill more than 60 humans. Prof. Greg Neely, one of the study’s authors, said no other living thing carries such a massive amount of toxin.
Among many species of box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri is considered as one of the most dangerous jellyfish. Its explosive bite can cause cardiac arrest, tissue necrosis, along with severe pain in humans. It can even result in death within minutes in case of severe exposure. Before this, scientists were unable to determine the working of jellyfish’s poison. Now a group of scientists have studied the jellyfish with CRISPR. It is a powerful gene-editing tool which has offered a new way to block jellyfish’s toxin. Prof. Neely said they had considered the largest, most toxic and a scary one. Besides, their drug works on the big monster. Scientists are not sure whether it works or not but are confident that it works on the most dangerous jellyfish.
In the research, published in Nature Communications on April 30, the poison mostly harms the skin when it comes in contact with cholesterol. Thus the drugs which are already available to reduce cholesterol can work as antidotes for box jellyfish poison. But it is essential to give antidote within fifteen minutes of the bite. Scientists tested box jellyfish poison in human cells developed in the lab. Prof Neely noted they used various types of drugs that soak up cholesterol to obstruct the poison. After testing the antidote on human cells outside the body, scientists tested it on live mice. Now they wish to develop a topical use for humans.