[ASC-media] DNA research into Irukandji culprits and antivenin

Theresa Millard t.millard at aims.gov.au
Thu Jan 30 16:19:16 EST 2003


> AIMS MEDIA RELEASE                       Thursday, 30 January 2003
>
> DNA research into Irukandji culprits and antivenin
>
> Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science will soon 
> embark on a genetic study of box jellyfish in a bid to build the 
> understanding needed to develop an antivenin for Irukandji Syndrome.
>
> AIMS geneticist Dr Madeleine van Oppen is leading the research into 
> the species thought to be causing the debilitating illness.
>
> “Irukandji Syndrome” is an extremely painful jellyfish sting and can 
> be fatal.
>
> At present there is only one known cause of Irukandji Syndrome, the 
> thumbnail-sized Carukia barnesi, but there are at least six other box 
> jellyfish species menacing north Queensland’s tropical waters 
> responsible for causing the syndrome.
>
> Dr van Oppen said it is not known whether these jellyfish are closely 
> related to the Carukia barnesi and she hopes to unravel a genetic 
> relationship between the species.
>
>  “If we find closely related species cause similar symptoms, treatment 
> could be made easier,” she said.
>
> “Ideally, this information can be used to develop a fast-reacting 
> dipstick test to identify a stinger from skin scrapings taken from 
> stinger victims. It should help make treatment decisions quicker and 
> more accurate.”
>
> Another facet to the research will be working out whether jellyfish 
> that look the same are in fact different species, as has been the case 
> in other jellyfish studies.
>
> First, samples have to be collected from the regions hardest hit by 
> the Irukandji Syndrome, around Cairns and the Whitsundays. “We’ll also 
> be collecting samples from the mid-shelf, where they are expected to 
> appear in large numbers eight to 12 days after a full moon,” said Dr 
> van Oppen.
>
> Dr van Oppen has been working on genetics of marine organisms since 
> 1989. This project has been funded by the Great Barrier Reef Research 
> Foundation.
>
>
> MEDIA CONTACTS
> Theresa Millard, Science Communication, 07 47534250, 
> t.millard at aims.gov.au
> Madeleine van Oppen, Project Leader 07 47534370, m.vanoppen at aims.gov.au
>
> ><>><>><>><>     <><<><<><<><
> Theresa Millard
> Science Communication Manager
> Australian Institute of Marine Science
> PMB No.3 Townsville Mail Centre Qld 4810
> Ph 61 7 47534250 Fax 61 7 47716138
> Mobile 0409 596 271
> ><>><>><>><>      <><<><<><<><
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