Years ago, Angel Yanagihara had a painful encounter with Hawaiian box jellyfish while swimming in Waikiki. So began a quest to identify the toxins in the creature’s venom and to develop a possible remedy.
Dr. Yanagihara, a biochemist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and colleagues began testing jellyfish venom on human blood and on mice. Now, in the journal PLoS One, they report on their findings — not just in Hawaiian jellyfish, but also in a larger and potentially deadlier species from Australia.
The Australian box jellyfish is one of the world’s most venomous animals. It has a body the size of a basketball and up to 60 tentacles, which can each grow to 10 feet. (Box jellyfish are also found off Indonesia and Thailand.)
“Biochemically, the venoms are similar,” Dr. Yanagihara said. “Colleagues sent me frozen tentacles.”