The Cardiovascular Pharmacology of Snake Venoms From Papua New Guinea and Australia
Papua New Guinean (PNG) snakes produce a wide range of toxins that affect different organ systems. Besides the neurological effects and toxic potential on muscles and the blood-clotting cascade, the venoms of PNG snakes are also known to affect the cardiovascular system. Patients bitten by PNG snakes frequently collapse early and show cardiac rhythmic disturbances that are thought to be due to direct cardiotoxic effects. In addition, other threatening cardiovascular events such as extreme lowering or raising of heart rate or blood pressure have been observed after PNG snake bites, underlining the cardiotoxic potential of PNG snake venoms. We are especially interested in the cardiovascular pharmacology of Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus canni) and PNG small-eyed snake (Micropechis ikaheka) venoms, as well as in Australian taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) venom. Our research aims to elucidate the mechanism of cardiotoxicity using isolated cardiovascular tissues in vitro and in integrated preparations in vivo. The effectiveness of antivenom from CSL or Costa Rica will be compared against cardiovascular responses to particular snake venoms. In doing so, further insights into the action of these venoms will be gleaned, providing avenues for novel drug discovery, as well as improvement in the treatment of envenomation.
This research is in collaboration with the Australian Venom Research Unit.
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