The Treatment of Papuan Taipan Envenoming in Papua New Guinea

Project Details

Clinical Research

A randomized, double-blinded controlled trial (RCT) of a new whole IgG, equine antivenom compared to the currently used F(ab')2 CSL taipan antivenom, for the treatment of Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) envenoming in Papua New Guinea

In 2012 the AVRU was awarded an NHMRC grant to investigate the use of a new equine IgG antivenom against a snake that causes a significant burden in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Papuan Taipan (O. Scutellatus). This project investigated the clinical presentation, management and treatment using the new antivenom within the Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG to enhance the evidence base underlying contemporary recommendations in the treatment of this bite. The antivenom was developed in collaboration with colleagues from the Instituto Clodomiro Picado (Costa Rica) and the University of PNG, and is the first new antivenom to be used for snakebite in humans in Australasia in more than 50 years. The development of this product has been driven by a desire to develop a template for the production of high potency, safe, effective and affordable antivenoms for deployment in developing nations, delivering a GMP-compliant product that meets rigorous WHO Standards at a price that is sustainable in the long term. In preclinical studies the new antivenom was found to have equivalent overall potency against Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) venom to the current antivenom product, and improved neutralisation of procoagulant toxins that cause bleeding. The clinical trial phase one and two was completed in February 2016 with results being prepared for publication.

In addition to the success of the clinical trial the AVRU continues to support a snakebite clinic, run out of the Hospital emergency department, and a snakebite research laboratory. These are run under The Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre, embedded within the University of Papua New Guinea. The Snakebite Clinic supports the management of approximately 250 snakebite cases each year, and in addition manages a snakebite ambulance retrieval service.  This service enables medical staff to attend critical snakebite cases within 150km of Port Moresby where they stabilise, treat and safely transport critically ill snakebite patients back to hospital.

photo of boy who was bitten by a Taipan

Research Group

Australian Venom Research Unit

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Systems Biology, Therapeutics & Translation

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Pharmacology

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