Venom And Toxin Research Laboratory

Contact Person

Dr. Tan Choo Hock (tanch@um.edu.my)

Prof. Sim Si Mui (debrasim@ummc.edu.my)

Introduction

Venom is a simple to complex mixture of secretion produced in a specialized gland of some animals and is typically delivered through specific body structures such as fangs, spines or stings. Venomous organisms spread widely across the Animalia Kingdom, distributed among all major phyla. They range from the very primitive cnidarians to the advanced Chordata, and snakes are perhaps by far the most extensively studied group of venomous animals due to the medical importance of snakebite envenomation as well as the potential of venom in drug discovery. Snake venom reflects a critical evolutionary adaption of snakes to a variety of ecological niche sand preys. The composition of snake venom is generally complex, diversely made up of various molecules with rich biochemical and pharmacological properties.

Research

Based in the University of Malaya, the Venom and Toxin Research Laboratory (VTRL) is dedicated to the studies of venoms, toxins and antivenoms. A variety of research tools and methods are utilized, including classical in vitro/in vivo models and state-of-art technologies of genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics. The research aims to offer clinical applicability for the improvement of medical care on snakebite envenomation in the region. Some of the core functions of the laboratory are:

To elucidate the compositional details and biological functions of snake venoms

To investigate the immunological properties of snake toxins and the implication on antivenom production

To access the quality of purity and neutralizing efficacy of antivenoms

To study and develop the therapeutic potential of novel molecules from snake venoms

To provide postgraduate and postdoctoral training in the field of venom toxinology

Research Collaboration

Currently, VTRL is collaborating with researchers from local and oversea institutions, including those in Southeast and South Asia where snakebite envenomation is a serious yet often neglected health problem. The research findings have been presented in numerous conferences and published in academic journals. A few selected publications are shown as follows:

Tan, C. H.; Liew, J. L.; Tan, K. Y.; Tan, N. H. (2016) Assessing SABU (Serum Anti Bisa Ular), the sole Indonesian antivenom: A proteomic analysis and neutralization efficacy study. Sci Rep. 6: 37299.

Tan, C. H.; Liew, J. L.; Tan, K. Y.; Tan, N. H. (2016) Genus Calliophis of Asiatic coral snakes: A deficiency of venom cross-reactivity and neutralization against seven regional elapid antivenoms. Toxicon 121:130-133.

Tan, C.H.: Tan, K.Y.: Tan, N.H. (2016) Revisiting Notechis scutatus venom: on shotgun proteomics and neutralization by the bivalent Sea Snake Antivenom. J. Proteomics 144, 33-38.

Tan, K.Y.; Tan, C.H.; Sim, S.M.; Fung, S.Y.; Tan, N.H. (2016) Geographical venom variations of the Southeast Asian monocled cobra (Naja kaouthia): venom-induced neuromuscular depression and antivenom neutralization. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 185-186:77-86.

Wong, K.Y.; Tan, C.H.; Tan, N.H. (2016) Venom and purified toxins of the spectacled cobra (Naja naja) from Pakistan: Insights into toxicity and antivenom neutralization. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 94, 1392-1399.

Ratanabanangkoon, K.; Tan, K. Y.; Eursakun, S.; Tan, C. H.; Simsiriwong, P.; Pamornsakda, T.; Wiriyarat, W.; Klinpayom, C.; Tan, N. H. (2016) A simple and novel strategy for the production of a pan-specific antiserum against elapid snakes of Asia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 10(4): e0004565.

Tan, C. H.; Fung, S. Y.; Yap, M. K. K.; Leong, P. K.; Liew, J. L.; Tan, N. H. (2016) Unveiling the elusive and exotic: Venomics of the Malayan blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgata flaviceps). J Proteomics 132, 1-12.

Tan, C. H.; Tan, K. Y.; Lim, S. E.; Tan, N. H. (2015) Venomics of the beaked sea snake, Hydrophis schistosus: A minimalist toxin arsenal and its cross-neutralization by heterologous antivenoms. J Proteomics 126:121-130.

Tan, C. H.; Tan, K. Y.; Fung, S. F.; Tan, N. H. (2015) Venom-gland transcriptome and venom proteome of the Malaysian king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah). BMC Genomics 16(1): 687.

Tan, C. H.; Sim, S. M.; Gnanathasan, C. A.; Fung, S. Y.; Tan, N. H. (2014) Pharmacokinetics of the Sri Lankan hump-nosed pit viper (Hypnale hypnale) venom following intravenous and intramuscular injections of the venom into rabbits. Toxicon.79, 37-44.