May 08, 2019
The box jellyfish has the deadliest sting of any jellyfish and is conservatively estimated to kill 40 people a year. Geneticists from University of Sydney have collected venom from box jellyfish and investigated how it affects human cells that have had certain genes switched off. The cells that survived the venom were DNA sequenced to see which genes were missing, which allowed the researchers to determine which proteins the venom was targeting. The results suggest that four genes involved with production of cholesterol are targeted by the venom. The team then tested the ability of existing medications that target cholesterol to see if they would block the venom. Two existing medications were able to prevent the venom from killing cells, although further testing will be required this becomes an established treatment to box jellyfish stings.
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