Danger Down Under

Ten foot venomous tentacles lurking in the ocean? It’s the box jellyfish!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Box jellyfish stings could easily be something from a horror movie. Especially terrifying? The monstrous C. fleckeri! Its venom causes pain, tissue damage, and even death! Swimmers, beware!

Who’s taking on these terrifying tentacles?? A research team led by Gregory Neely and Raymond Lau from the University of Sydney! They wondered – how exactly does box jellyfish venom work? If we know the answer, maybe we can find a cure!

They injected jellyfish venom into modified human cells in a test tube. The venom attacked specific sections of DNA, one of which builds cholesterol. But injecting cells with cholesterol blocking compounds before OR after venom exposure blocked the attacks!

We now know how box jellyfish venom causes damage. AND there’s a promising post-sting antidote! Researchers also hope the venom itself can help make new medicines.

Now, I can go swimming without a care in the- Ahh! Something touched me!!