Scientists use CRISPR gene editing as antidote to box jellyfish stings

Whole genome CRISPR screening can be used to develop an antidote to stings from the Australian box jellyfish, widely believed to be the most venomous creature on Earth, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

Researchers at the University of Sydney used CRISPR gene editing technology to study how human cells with various genes removed reacted to high doses of box jellyfish venom, and what molecular traits activate the venom. Once the venom's cellular pathway had been identified, researchers used existing drugs to block the pathway.

According to the study, scientists discovered that, since the venom required cholesterol to work, when a drug that targets cholesterol was given to the poisoned cells within 15 minutes, it completely stopped tissue necrosis, skin scarring and pain. The treatment was found to be effective both in human cells dosed outside the body and in live mice.

Further research will be necessary to find an antidote that will stop the fatal cardiac arrest that can be caused by large doses of box jellyfish venom.

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