The cardiovascular pharmacology of snake venoms from Papua New Guinea and Australia

Project Details

Papua New Guinean (PNG) and Australian snakes produce a wide range of toxins that affect different organ systems. Besides the neurological effects and toxic potential on various muscles and the blood-clotting cascade, snake venoms are also known to affect the cardiovascular system. Patients bitten by PNG snakes occasionally collapse early and show cardiac rhythmic disturbances that may 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. Australian brownsnake envenomations, in particular by the Eastern brownsnake, Pseudonaja textilis, have also been associated with cardiovascular collapse which is poorly understood.

We are especially interested in the cardiovascular pharmacology of Papuan blacksnake (Pseudechis papuanus), coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) and PNG small-eyed snake (Micropechis ikaheka) venoms, as well as in Australian brownsnake (Pseudonaja spp.) venoms. Our research aims to elucidate the mechanism(s) of cardiotoxicity and adverse cardiovascular sequelae using isolated cardiovascular tissues in vitro and integrated haemodynamic preparations in vivo. The efficacy of specific antivenoms will be assessed against cardiovascular responses to the snake venoms under investigation. 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.

lab personnel involved in snake venom project


Ms Nhi Thuc Vuong, M Biomed Sci candidate

Mr Mark Ross-Smith, Research Assistant

Ms Linda Cornthwaite-Duncan, Technical Officer


Dr Timothy Jackson, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Dr David Williams, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics


Struan Sutherland Trust Fund

Research Publications

  • Herrera M, Collaço RCO, Villalta M, Segura A, Vargas M, Wright CE, Paiva OK, Matainaho T, Jensen SD, León G, Williams DJ, Rodrigues-Simioni L, Gutiérrez JM. Neutralization of the neuromuscular inhibition of venom and taipoxin from the taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) by F(ab’)2 and whole IgG antivenoms. Toxicol Lett 2016; 241: 175-183.
  • Pla D, Bande BW, Welton RE, Paiva OK, Sanz L, Segura A, Wright CE, Calvete JJ, Gutiérrez JM, Williams DJ. Proteomics and antivenomics of Papuan black snake (Pseudechis papuanus) venom with analysis of its toxicological profile and the preclinical efficacy of Australian antivenoms. J Proteomics 2017; 150: 201-215.
  • Paiva OK, Pla D, Wright CE, Beutler M, Sanz L, Gutiérrez JM, Williams DJ, Calvete JJ. Combined venom gland cDNA sequencing and venomics of the New Guinea small-eyed snake, Micropechis ikaheka. J Proteomics 2014; 110: 209-229.
  • Pla D, Paiva OK, Sanz L, Wright CE, Beutler M, Calvete JJ, Williams DJ, Gutiérrez JM. Preclinical efficacy of Australian antivenoms against the venom of the small-eyed snake, Micropechis ikaheka, from Papua New Guinea: an antivenomics and neutralization study. J Proteomics 2014; 110: 198-208.

Research Group

Christine Wright laboratory

School Research Themes


Key Contact

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

Department / Centre

Biochemistry and Pharmacology

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