grant

Anaphylaxis to Australian native ant venoms; major allergens, cross-reactivity, diagnosis and risk assessment. [ 2006 - 2008 ]

Also known as: Life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) to Australian ant venoms.

Research Grant

[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/404050]

Researchers: Prof Simon Brown (Principal investigator) ,  A/Pr Robert Heddle Dr Richard Loh A/Pr Raymond Mullins A/Pr Michael Wiese

Brief description Insect venom allergy is a major cause of life-threatening allergy (anaphylaxis) in this country, and native ants are the most frequent cause in some regions. For introduced insects (bees and wasps), venom extracts are widely available for diagnostic and therapeutic use, but this is not yet the case for native ants. As many as 50,000 Australians may be affected by allergy to stings from ants in the native genus Myrmecia. This project will provide an in-depth understanding of the ant species responsible for anaphylaxis in Australia. We will develop a range of diagnostic test modules, a detailed national map of causative species, and a panel of reference venoms and allergic sera, so that accurate diagnostic tests can be assured, and so that high quality venom extracts can be provided for human use (immunotherapy). We will also study allergic volunteers for up to five years, so as to determine which people are at the highest risk of repeated stings and reactions and thus most likely to benefit from desensitisation. Current evidence suggests that the commonest cause of native insect venom allergy may be the jack jumper ant Myrmecia pilosula, for which a desensitising venom extract has been developed and shown to be highly effective in preventing life threatening reactions. The research described in this application will enable doctors to ensure an accurate diagnosis, which is an essential step before desensitising treatment can be offered for jack jumper allergy. Another large group of people are probably allergic to larger Myrmecia known as bull dog ants or inch ants. Our results with regard to cross-reactivity patterns and venom similarities will enable us to determine an optimum therapeutic mixture of bull dog ant venoms and thus enable us to provide treatment for people allergic to these ants as well.

Funding Amount $AUD 345,813.48

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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