- Coagulotoxic effects by brown snake (Pseudonaja) and taipan (Oxyuranus) venoms, and the efficacy of a new antivenom. [Journal Article]
- TVToxicol In Vitro 2019; 58:97-109
- Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that disproportionately affects the poor. Antivenom is the only specific and effective treatment for snakebite, but its distribution is severely limited by s…
Snakebite is a neglected tropical disease that disproportionately affects the poor. Antivenom is the only specific and effective treatment for snakebite, but its distribution is severely limited by several factors, including the prohibitive cost of some products. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a snakebite hotspot but the high costs of Australian antivenoms (thousands of dollars per treatment) makes it unaffordable in PNG. A more economical taipan antivenom has recently been developed at the Instituto Clodomiro Picado (ICP) in Costa Rica for PNG and is currently undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of envenomations by coastal taipans (Oxyuranus scutellatus). In addition to potentially having the capacity to neutralise the effects of envenomations of non-PNG taipans, this antivenom may have the capacity to neutralise coagulotoxins in venom from closely related brown snakes (Pseudonaja spp.) also found in PNG. Consequently, we investigated the cross-reactivity of taipan antivenom across the venoms of all Oxyuranus and Pseudonaja species. In addition, to ascertain differences in venom biochemistry that influence variation in antivenom efficacy, we tested for relative cofactor dependence. We found that the new ICP taipan antivenom exhibited high selectivity for Oxyuranus venoms and only low to moderate cross-reactivity with any Pseudonaja venoms. Consistent with this genus level distinction in antivenom efficacy were fundamental differences in the venom biochemistry. Not only were the Pseudonaja venoms significantly more procoagulant, but they were also much less dependent upon the cofactors calcium and phospholipid. There was a strong correlation between antivenom efficacy, clotting time and cofactor dependence. This study sheds light on the structure-function relationships of the procoagulant toxins within these venoms and may have important clinical implications including for the design of next-generation antivenoms.
- Mud in the blood: Novel potent anticoagulant coagulotoxicity in the venoms of the Australian elapid snake genus Denisonia (mud adders) and relative antivenom efficacy. [Journal Article]
- TLToxicol Lett 2019 Mar 01; 302:1-6
- Due to their potent coagulotoxicity, Australian elapid venoms are unique relative to non-Australian members of the Elapidae snake family. The majority of Australian elapids possess potent procoagulan…
Due to their potent coagulotoxicity, Australian elapid venoms are unique relative to non-Australian members of the Elapidae snake family. The majority of Australian elapids possess potent procoagulant venom, while only a few species have been identified as possessing anticoagulant venoms. The majority of research to-date has concentrated on large species with range distributions overlapping major city centres, such as brown snakes (Pseudonaja spp.) and taipans (Oxyuranus spp.). We investigated the venom from the poorly studied genus Denisonia and documented anticoagulant activities that were differentially potent on amphibian, avian, and human plasmas. Both species were potently anticoagulant upon amphibian plasma, consistent with these snakes preying upon frogs as their primary food source. While D. devisi was only relatively weakly active on avian and human plasma, D. maculata was potently anticoagulant to amphibian, avian, and human plasma. The mechanism of anticoagulant action was determined to be the inhibition of prothrombin activation by Factor Xa by blocking the formation of the prothrombinase complex. Fractionation of D. maculata venom followed by MS sequencing revealed that the toxins responsible were Group I phospholipase A2. As no antivenom is produced for this species or its near relatives, we examined the ability of Seqirus Australian snake polyvalent antivenom to neutralise the anticoagulant effects, with this antivenom shown to be effective. These results contribute to the body of knowledge regarding adaptive evolution of venom, revealing a unique taxon-specific anticoagulant effect for D. devisi venom. These results also reveal the potential effects and mechanisms behind envenomation by the potently acting D. maculata venom on human plasma, while the discovery of the efficacy of an available antivenom provides information crucial to the design of snakebite management strategies.
- Delayed Oral LY333013 Rescues Mice from Highly Neurotoxic, Lethal Doses of Papuan Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) Venom. [Journal Article]
- TToxins (Basel) 2018 09 20; 10(10)
- There is an unmet need for economical snakebite therapies with long shelf lives that are effective even with delays in treatment. The orally bioavailable, heat-stable, secretory phospholipase A₂ (sPL…
There is an unmet need for economical snakebite therapies with long shelf lives that are effective even with delays in treatment. The orally bioavailable, heat-stable, secretory phospholipase A₂ (sPLA₂) inhibitor, LY333013, demonstrates antidotal characteristics for severe snakebite envenoming in both field and hospital use. A murine model of lethal envenoming by a Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) demonstrates that LY333013, even with delayed oral administration, improves the chances of survival. Furthermore, LY333013 improves the performance of antivenom even after it no longer reverses neurotoxic signs. Our study is the first demonstration that neurotoxicity from presynaptic venom sPLA2S can be treated successfully, even after the window of therapeutic antivenom has closed. These results suggest that sPLA₂ inhibitors have the potential to reduce death and disability and should be considered for the initial and adjunct treatment of snakebite envenoming. The scope and capacity of the sPLA2 inhibitors ability to achieve these endpoints requires further investigation and development efforts.
- Short-chain consensus alpha-neurotoxin: a synthetic 60-mer peptide with generic traits and enhanced immunogenic properties. [Journal Article]
- AAAmino Acids 2018; 50(7):885-895
- The three-fingered toxin family and more precisely short-chain α-neurotoxins (also known as Type I α-neurotoxins) are crucial in defining the elapid envenomation process, but paradoxically, they are …
The three-fingered toxin family and more precisely short-chain α-neurotoxins (also known as Type I α-neurotoxins) are crucial in defining the elapid envenomation process, but paradoxically, they are barely neutralized by current elapid snake antivenoms. This work has been focused on the primary structural identity among Type I neurotoxins in order to create a consensus short-chain α-neurotoxin with conserved characteristics. A multiple sequence alignment considering the twelve most toxic short-chain α-neurotoxins reported from the venoms of the elapid genera Acanthophis, Oxyuranus, Walterinnesia, Naja, Dendroaspis and Micrurus led us to propose a short-chain consensus α-neurotoxin, here named ScNtx. The synthetic ScNtx gene was de novo constructed and cloned into the expression vector pQE30 containing a 6His-Tag and an FXa proteolytic cleavage region. Escherichia coli Origami cells transfected with the pQE30/ScNtx vector expressed the recombinant consensus neurotoxin in a soluble form with a yield of 1.5 mg/L of culture medium. The 60-amino acid residue ScNtx contains canonical structural motifs similar to α-neurotoxins from African elapids and its LD50 of 3.8 µg/mice is similar to the most toxic short-chain α-neurotoxins reported from elapid venoms. Furthermore, ScNtx was also able to antagonize muscular, but not neuronal, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR). Rabbits immunized with ScNtx were able to immune-recognize short-chain α-neurotoxins within whole elapid venoms. Type I neurotoxins are difficult to isolate and purify from natural sources; therefore, the heterologous expression of molecules such ScNtx, bearing crucial motifs and key amino acids, is a step forward to create common immunogens for developing cost-effective antivenoms with a wider spectrum of efficacy, quality and strong therapeutic value.
- Molecular evidence for the first records of facultative parthenogenesis in elapid snakes. [Journal Article]
- RSR Soc Open Sci 2018; 5(2):171901
- Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction by which embryos develop from unfertilized eggs. Parthenogenesis occurs in reptiles; however, it is not yet known to occur in the widespread elapid s…
Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction by which embryos develop from unfertilized eggs. Parthenogenesis occurs in reptiles; however, it is not yet known to occur in the widespread elapid snakes (Elapidae), which include well-known taxa such as cobras, mambas, taipans and sea snakes. Here, we describe the production of viable parthenogens in two species of Australo-Papuan elapids with divergent reproductive modes: the oviparous coastal/Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) and the viviparous southern death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus). Analyses of nuclear SNP data excluded paternity for putative fathers and convincingly demonstrated asexual reproduction, thus representing the first evidence of facultative parthenogenesis in Elapidae. Our finding has broad implications for understanding the evolution of reproductive diversity in snakes, as well as managing the conservation of genetic diversity in wild and captive populations.
- Optimisation of antithrombin resistance assay as a practical clinical laboratory test: Development of prothrombin activator using factors Xa/Va and automation of assay. [Journal Article]
- IJInt J Lab Hematol 2018; 40(3):312-319
- CONCLUSIONS: We optimised the ATR assay with the FXa/Va activator and adapted the assay for ACL TOP 500; the assay showed the ability to clearly detect antithrombin-resistant prothrombin in manual and automated procedures.
- Neurotoxicity with persistent unilateral ophthalmoplegia from envenoming by a wild inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus, Elapidae) in remote outback South Australia. [Case Reports]
- TToxicon 2017; 137:15-18
- CONCLUSIONS: Physicians presented with a patient envenomed by O. microlepidotus should remain cognizant of the possible variability of medically important venom toxins in some populations of this species. Some patients seriously envenomed by this species may develop persistent cranial nerve palsies. When clinically indicated, prompt provision of adequate antivenom is the cornerstone of managing O. microlepidotus envenoming. Rapid application of pressure-bandage immobilization and efficient retrieval of victims envenomed in remote locales, preferably by medically well-equipped aircraft, probably improves the likelihood of a positive outcome.
- Antivenom for Neuromuscular Paralysis Resulting From Snake Envenoming. [Review]
- TToxins (Basel) 2017 04 19; 9(4)
- Antivenom therapy is currently the standard practice for treating neuromuscular dysfunction in snake envenoming. We reviewed the clinical and experimental evidence-base for the efficacy and effective…
Antivenom therapy is currently the standard practice for treating neuromuscular dysfunction in snake envenoming. We reviewed the clinical and experimental evidence-base for the efficacy and effectiveness of antivenom in snakebite neurotoxicity. The main site of snake neurotoxins is the neuromuscular junction, and the majority are either: (1) pre-synaptic neurotoxins irreversibly damaging the presynaptic terminal; or (2) post-synaptic neurotoxins that bind to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Pre-clinical tests of antivenom efficacy for neurotoxicity include rodent lethality tests, which are problematic, and in vitro pharmacological tests such as nerve-muscle preparation studies, that appear to provide more clinically meaningful information. We searched MEDLINE (from 1946) and EMBASE (from 1947) until March 2017 for clinical studies. The search yielded no randomised placebo-controlled trials of antivenom for neuromuscular dysfunction. There were several randomised and non-randomised comparative trials that compared two or more doses of the same or different antivenom, and numerous cohort studies and case reports. The majority of studies available had deficiencies including poor case definition, poor study design, small sample size or no objective measures of paralysis. A number of studies demonstrated the efficacy of antivenom in human envenoming by clearing circulating venom. Studies of snakes with primarily pre-synaptic neurotoxins, such as kraits (Bungarus spp.) and taipans (Oxyuranus spp.) suggest that antivenom does not reverse established neurotoxicity, but early administration may be associated with decreased severity or prevent neurotoxicity. Small studies of snakes with mainly post-synaptic neurotoxins, including some cobra species (Naja spp.), provide preliminary evidence that neurotoxicity may be reversed with antivenom, but placebo controlled studies with objective outcome measures are required to confirm this.
- Australian taipan (Oxyuranus spp.) envenoming: clinical effects and potential benefits of early antivenom therapy - Australian Snakebite Project (ASP-25). [Journal Article]
- CTClin Toxicol (Phila) 2017; 55(2):115-122
- CONCLUSIONS: Australian taipan envenoming is characterised by neurotoxicity, myotoxicity, coagulopathy, acute kidney injury and thrombocytopenia. One vial of antivenom binds all measurable venom and early antivenom was associated with a favourable outcome.
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- Cross-Neutralisation of In Vitro Neurotoxicity of Asian and Australian Snake Neurotoxins and Venoms by Different Antivenoms. [Journal Article]
- TToxins (Basel) 2016 10 18; 8(10)
- There is limited information on the cross-neutralisation of neurotoxic venoms with antivenoms. Cross-neutralisation of the in vitro neurotoxicity of four Asian and four Australian snake venoms, four …
There is limited information on the cross-neutralisation of neurotoxic venoms with antivenoms. Cross-neutralisation of the in vitro neurotoxicity of four Asian and four Australian snake venoms, four post-synaptic neurotoxins (α-bungarotoxin, α-elapitoxin-Nk2a, α-elapitoxin-Ppr1 and α-scutoxin; 100 nM) and one pre-synaptic neurotoxin (taipoxin; 100 nM) was studied with five antivenoms: Thai cobra antivenom (TCAV), death adder antivenom (DAAV), Thai neuro polyvalent antivenom (TNPAV), Indian Polyvalent antivenom (IPAV) and Australian polyvalent antivenom (APAV). The chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation was used for this study. Antivenom was added to the organ bath 20 min prior to venom. Pre- and post-synaptic neurotoxicity of Bungarus caeruleus and Bungarus fasciatus venoms was neutralised by all antivenoms except TCAV, which did not neutralise pre-synaptic activity. Post-synaptic neurotoxicity of Ophiophagus hannah was neutralised by all antivenoms, and Naja kaouthia by all antivenoms except IPAV. Pre- and post-synaptic neurotoxicity of Notechis scutatus was neutralised by all antivenoms, except TCAV, which only partially neutralised pre-synaptic activity. Pre- and post-synaptic neurotoxicity of Oxyuranus scutellatus was neutralised by TNPAV and APAV, but TCAV and IPAV only neutralised post-synaptic neurotoxicity. Post-synaptic neurotoxicity of Acanthophis antarcticus was neutralised by all antivenoms except IPAV. Pseudonaja textillis post-synaptic neurotoxicity was only neutralised by APAV. The α-neurotoxins were neutralised by TNPAV and APAV, and taipoxin by all antivenoms except IPAV. Antivenoms raised against venoms with post-synaptic neurotoxic activity (TCAV) cross-neutralised the post-synaptic activity of multiple snake venoms. Antivenoms raised against pre- and post-synaptic neurotoxic venoms (TNPAV, IPAV, APAV) cross-neutralised both activities of Asian and Australian venoms. While acknowledging the limitations of adding antivenom prior to venom in an in vitro preparation, cross-neutralization of neurotoxicity means that antivenoms from one region may be effective in other regions which do not have effective antivenoms. TCAV only neutralized post-synaptic neurotoxicity and is potentially useful in distinguishing pre-synaptic and post-synaptic effects in the chick biventer cervicis preparation.