A big beast
Found in coastal waters in northern Australia, from Queensland to Western Australian and in waters around the Philippines, the jellyfish box is extremely dangerous. They not only float, they can actively swim, gaining speed of 7.5 miles per hour when they are hunting. They feed on shallow water, especially small fish and shrimp.
There are two types of jellyfish, the Irukandji, which is tiny, and the Chironex fleckeri, which is about three meters long. "We studied the bigger, more poisonous and scary," said Associate Professor Neely. "Our drugs work on the big beast. We still do not know if it works in other jellyfish, but we know it works in the most deadly. "
The venom used in the study was collected from a box of jellyfish in the waters of Cairns by Associate Professor Jamie Seymour at James Cook University.
Evidence suggests that the only current treatment for a sting is to dry the area with vinegar for 30 seconds or run very hot water over the affected area for 20 minutes. If it is an important prick, continuous CPR is needed to keep the heart from pounding.
"Our antidote is a drug that blocks the poison," said associate professor Neely. "You need to put it on the site in 15 minutes. In our study, we inject it. But the plan would be a spray or a topical cream. The argument against a cream is when you are stung leaves many stings on you, so if you rub the cream on it may be squeezing more venom into you. But if you spray it, it can neutralize what's left of your body. "
Associate Professor Neely and his team are now looking for potential partners to work on making the drug available to the public.