University of Papua New Guinea
Mr. Ben Bande is a research assistant with the Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre (CCTC), a research laboratory which is located within the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), in the pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea. CCTC is a non-profit NGO and usually does research on the venomous snakes, snakebites and epidemiology in PNG. It was established from collaboration between the University of Melbourne (UoM), UPNG, Global Snakebite Initiative (GSI) and the Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU). With collaborators and research partners in Australia, Costa Rica, Spain and United Kingdom, they were able to do extensive research into the venom proteome of the five most medically important snakes in PNG. This research is on-going and has been further strengthened by the recent WHO recognition of snakebite as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD).
Mr. Bande’ WIPO Re:Search fellowship is at the AVRU in the UoM. He is working on developing an enhanced platform for the quantitative measurement of species-specific snake venom toxins in the plasma (or other biological samples obtained from) of snakebite patients. The use of this platform will enable accurate determination of the concentration of toxins in the samples both before and after administration of antivenom, and will be used as a measurement of the effectiveness of antivenom in clinical settings. Hence this platform both enables the determination of the identity of the biting species (important for accurate epidemiological surveillance, and for confirmation of suitability to receive specific antivenoms), and quantitative assessment of the neutralization of venom by antivenom. This approach has potential to reliably identify biting species, determine toxin concentrations and use the data to extrapolate accurate estimates of total injected venom mass. These data are crucial for undertaking robustly designed and effective clinical trials of snake antivenoms in countries around the world, and will strengthen current clinical research resources for snakebite envenoming.
In addition, the test will be initially used for identifying toxins from medically important species of snakes that occur in Australia and New Guinea (Acanthophis laevis, Oxyuranus scutellatus, Pseudechis papuanus, etc.). The methodology which he is using to develop the platform is novel and has not been previously used for this application.