Yanagihara, Angel PhD

Pilot Project PI
Emerging Investigator - Cardiovascular Health
Assistant Researcher, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology
John A. Burns School of Medicine


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Research Overview

Pilot Project Description

2011-2012 RMATRIX Collaboration Pilot Projects Program Awards

Project Description

Title: Identification and Characterization of Cryptic Fleming Bay Marine Stingers
Principal Investigator: Angel Yanagihara, PhD, Dept. of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology, UH JABSOM
Collaborator: Jason Smith, MD, Dept. of Emergency Medicine, U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations
Collaborator: Allen Collins, PhD, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
RMATRIX HEALTH Initiative(s): Cardiovascular
RMATRIX Funding: $20,548
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Identification and Characterization of Cryptic Fleming Bay Marine Stingers

Throughout the tropics (Pacific and Atlantic), there is a critical unmet need for rapid assessment and effective treatments of cubozoan (box jellyfish) stings. Exposure to the extremely potent venom of even thimble.sized cubozoans can lead to a constellation of symptoms ranging from searing pain and local inflammation to systemic “cytokine storm” and catecholamine excess with the marked potential for cardiovascular collapse termed “Irukandji” syndrome. Clinical Irukandji syndrome is characterized by minutes. to hours.long delayed onset of a complex set of symptoms, including protracted headache, backache, myalgia, chest and abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, diaphoresis, anxiety, hypertension, tachycardia and pulmonary edema. Despite the severity of these envenomations, hardly anything is known of the composition and mechanism of action of the complex venoms of cubozoans. This study is proposed in collaboration with the field physician, Dr. Jason Smith, to address the urgent need to elucidate the basis of enigmatic marine stings in military combat divers sustained in Fleming Bay Florida which are consistent with Irukandji syndrome. These stings have only occurred during night diving missions from April to September in near.shore sea grass habitats. The habitat, seasonality and nocturnal nature of the stings together with the clinical profile are consistent with known “Irukandji” species of night.feeding cubozoans. Recent increases in the presentation of severe stings in trainees (4 in March 2009; 5 in May.June 2010) represent substantial impediments to performance and mission completion. The incidence and range of cubozoan stings is increasing worldwide due to various environmental factors. The aims of this project are to 1) conduct night diving transect surveys in Fleming Bay to capture and identify stinging marine life and collect sufficient number of animals to 2) purify venom and conduct bioassays.

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