A study from NUI Galway could open up new avenues to treating necrotic skin wounds caused by venomous creature attacks.
Countless people are bitten or stung by venomous spiders, scorpions, snakes, jellyfish or more every year.
In most cases the venom attack’s the victim’s nervous system, causing symptoms like burning pain, stiffness, and breathing difficulties.
However in some cases the victim will also develop an inexplicably necrotic wound that rots the flesh.
Treating these injuries are notoriously difficult to treat and can result in deep scars, debilitating chronic pain,or amputations.
Now researchers at the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway have drawn a link between the immune system and necrotic wounds from a broad range of venomous animals.
They found that the venom can turn your immune system against you, making it enhance or cause necrosis.
“Venom-induced necrosis is a well-known fact and most prevalent in Snakebite victims,” said lead author of the study, doctoral student John Dunbar.
Despite this he said there has been very little research into the mechanisms behind necrosis.
“Necrosis is something we usually associate with an attack on our cells by external forces,” John said, but advances in biochemistry and immunnology have helped to change that view.
Research has identified cell death pathways which are regulated by the body’s own cells.
With this new knowledge, the scientists in this study reexamined past research into venom related injuries.
If their finding are confirmed it could have huge implications for thousands of people treated for venomous injuries every year.
“Venomous animals kill over 150,000 and maim over half a million people every single year around the globe,” said Dr Michel Dugon from the Ryan Institute.
“Trying to determine the exact physiological events that cascade in a person’s immune system after a venomous sting or bite may significantly reduce the severity of symptoms experienced by the victims.”