Venom Supplies PTY LTD

Student, Graduate and Collaborative Projects

Snake Venom's role in Digestion

Peter Mirtschin

Frank Madaras

Venom Science

Pty Ltd


Michael Venning

University of

South Australia

Josh Bottral Jay Nicholson    Christopher Biven

Work carried out jointlly by Venom Supplies Pty Ltd, Venom Science Pty Ltd and University of South Australia.  Originally started in 1995 by Flachsenberger and Mirtschin [Herpetofauna 25(2) 1995].



Further work was carried out on Taipan venom. See: Nicholson, J., Mirtschin, P., Madaras, F., Venning, M. and Kokkinn, M. (2006). Digestive properties of the venom of the Australian Coastal

Taipan, Oxyuranus scutellatus (Peters,1867) Toxicon 48 (2006) 422 428.

In 2008, Frank Madaras (Venom Science Pty Ltd) proposed a biochemical approach to investigating digestion by venoms.  Josh Bottral carried out this work.


Tumor & venom study

Collaborators are Venom Supplies Pty Ltd, Venom Science Pty Ltd and University of South Australia. 


Peter Mirtschin

& Frank Madaras

Venom Science Pty Ltd 

Michael Venning

University of South Australia

Emma Bateman

University of South Australia

 Tony Woods

University of South Australia


The work carried out investigated the effects of apoptotic agents derived from Australian elapid venoms on tumour-associated microvascular endothelial cells (TAMECs) in vitro and in vivo.


Veterinary Antivenom Project

The collaborators were Venom Science Pty Ltd, Venom Supplies Pty Ltd and the Institute of Medical & Veterinary Science (South Australia).


Tim Kuchel

Institute of Medical & Veterinary Science (South Australia)

Frank Madaras

Venom Science Pty Ltd

Peter Mirtschin

Venom Supplies Pty Ltd

This project spanned about 8 years from 1997 to 2005.  Some of the work has been published in:  Madaras.F., Mirtschin.P.J., Kuchel.T. (2005). Antivenom development in Australia  Toxin Reviews Taylor & Francis  24. 79-94.

other associated work has been published in:

Mirtschin, P. J., Masci, P., Paton, D. C., Kuchel, T.(1998).  Snake bites recorded by Veterinary Practices in Australia. Aust Vet J 76(3). 195-198.

Mirtschin,P., Madaras,F., Kuchel,T.(1999).  Snake bite in Animals.  Aus. Vet. Assoc. S.A. div. Sep 23.

The work was suspended due to cost.  The technology has been largely preserved and could still be applied to both veterinary and human antivenoms.   A method of making antivenoms of wide spectrum activity was discovered.  Significant funds are required to complete the work.  It is probably not a viable commercial enterprise and requires funds donated on a humanitarian basis.  The technology is especially appropriate for develping countries.

Venom Production in the venom gland

A pure science investigation to study the developement of venom compounds in the growing snake embryo.  Collaborators are Venom Supplies Pty Ltd, Venom Science pty Ltd and the University of South Australia.

Frozan Jamali  PhD student University of South Australia Jalal Volker   Honours Project University of South Australia

A study involving the production of venom components in the developing snake embryo.   

Both Pseudonaja textilis and Naja siamensis were studied.


Analgesics in venoms

This project involves the discovery of analgesic compounds in snake venoms.  The active compounds have been isolated in a number of snake venoms which show potent analgesic activity.  The work is a collaborative project between Venom Science Pty Ltd, The University of São Paulo, The University of South Australia and the University of Queensland.

The Researchers are:


 Frank Madaras

& Peter Mirtschin

Venom Science Pty Ltd


 Marucia Chacur  University of São Paulo


 Paul Masci   University of Queensland

 Michael Venning

University of South Australia

Use of anticolinesterases as a treatement for snakebite

Collaboration between Venom Supplies pty Ltd and the University of South Australia

A collaborative study to improve snake bite treatment in developeing countries.   The use of anticholinetsreases in treating death adder, Acanthophis antarcticus, bites was undertaken and it was shown that neostigmine could be used in the interim whilst waiting for antivenom in the management of these bites.


 Peter Mirtschin

Venom Supplies Pty Ltd

 Wolfgang Flachsenber

University of South Australia



Flachsenberger,W. and Mirtschin,P.J. (1992). Death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus) envenomation effects counteracted in rats with anticholinesterases.   Toxicon 30  (5/6) 507.


Cleavage Compound

  Venom Supplies Pty Ltd
 Manjunatha Kini
University of Singapore


Development of a novel enzyme compound from Notechis ater niger venom called Notanarin to cleave recombinant fusion proteins in molecular biology see:


Evolutionary Development of Snake Fangs

To help solve the controversy in snake evolution on whether or not front and rear fangs share the same evolutionary and developmental origin, a method of visualizing the tooth-forming epithelium in the upper jaw was developed by Freek Vonk and colleagues and applied to developing embryos of Naja siamensis bred at Venom Supplies Pty Ltd.  This contributed to a more wide ranging work carried out by Freek with a further 7 species. As a result a new model for the evolution of snake fangs was proposed: a posterior subregion of the tooth-forming epithelium became developmentally uncoupled from the remaining dentition, which allowed the posterior teeth to evolve independently and in close association with the venom gland, becoming highly modified in different lineages. This developmental event could have facilitated the massive radiation of advanced snakes in the Cenozoic era, resulting in the spectacular diversity of snakes seen today.

Freek Vonk

University of Leiden


 Naja siamensis

Indo-chinese spitting cobra

The component of work with Naja siamensis was carried out by a number of Venom Supplies Pty Ltd staff and Andrew Beck, Tony Woods, Michael Venning from the University of South Australia.

The results were published in: 

Vonk,F.J.,  Admiraal, J.F., Jackson, K., Reshef, R., de Bakker, M.A.G., Vanderschoot, K., van den Berge, I., van Atten, M., Burgerhout, E., Beck, A., Mirtschin, P.J., Kochva, E., Witte, F., Fry, B.G., Woods, A.E., & Richardson, M.K. (2008). Evolutionary origin and development of snake fangs. LETTERS Nature   (454). 630-633.


 Anti-leishmania Activity

  Peter Mirtschin Venom Supplies Pty Ltd 

 Patrick Spencer

University of São Paulo



A collaborative investigation between Venom Supplies Pty Ltd and the University of São Paulo to discover the action of venoms against the parasite Leishmania (Leishmania) amazonensis  was carried out. The venoms of Acanthophis antarcticus, Agkistrodon bilineatus, Bothrops moojeni, Bothrops jararaca, Hoplocephalus stephensis, Naja melanoleuca, Naja mossambica, Pseudechis australis, Pseudechis colletti, Pseudechis guttatus, Pseudechis porphyriacus and Oxyuranus microlepidotus and were assayed for anti-leishmania activity in vitro.  All displayed high parasiticide activity.  The most potent venoms were those of Pseudechis guttattus and Pseudechis australis.


 Venom Yield Study

Milking a Taipan Oxyuranus scutellatus

A milking mis-adventure with a

Bitis rhinoceros

The amount of venom produced by a snake when it bites is described as the yield. The whole snake venom is comprised of salts, water, enzymes, proteins and various other macromolecular and smaller organic and inorganic compounds. The traditional way venom yield is measured and compared is in its dried powder form where the free water is removed by some method of drying leaving the remaining solids. The wet and dry venom yields for most Australian native dangerous snakes and a number of non-Australian species are presented. In a study over Snakes from the Pseudonaja genus yielded higher than previously published amounts and suggest reconsideration be given to increasing the volume of antivenom in each vial.  Higher percentage solids were obtained from venoms from the 4 cobra species (Naja) and Pseudechis genus included in this series.  

Data was been collected over 6 years at the venom production laboratories at Venom Supplies Pty Ltd.

It was published:  Mirtschin PJ, Dunstan N, Hough B, Hamilton E, Klein S, Lucas J, Millar D, Madaras F, Nias (2006).  Venom yields from Australian and some other species of snakes.
Ecotoxicology. 15(6):531-8. Epub 2006 Aug 26. See:  Yields 


History of Venom and Antivenom Production in Australia

Venom Supplies Pty Ltd was involved in a historical review of the history of venom and antivenom production in Australia.

Between 1895-1905, Australia embraced the experimental approach to toxinology which resulted and coincided with a new knowledge emerging from Europe and the Americas of the therapeutic effects of antitoxins. A systematic study of Australian venoms and toxins through to the 1930s and beyond, by Tidswell, Fairley, Ross, Kellaway and Cleland, set the foundation for Australia's leading reputation in venom research.  This revolutionised the management of those victims who in the past had died from our venomous and toxic fauna.   The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories emphasised the importance of cooperation between those expert at catching and milking the venomous creatures and those developing the antivenoms. Commercial antivenom manufacture began in Australia in 1930 with the tiger snake antivenom. This was followed by other antivenoms for the other important species (1955: taipan; 1956: brown snake; 1958: death adder; 1959: Papuan black snake; 1961: sea snake; 1962: polyvalent) including the first marine antivenoms in the world (1956: stonefish antivenom; 1970: box jellyfish) culminating, in 1980, with the release of the funnel web spider antivenom. More recent activity has focused on veterinary antivenoms and production of new generation human antivenoms for export (CroFab and ViperaTAB). This work reviewed some of the milestones of Australian toxinology, and antivenom development in particular, during the 20th century. See published paper:Antivenom development

Before the introduction of the first Australian antivenom was the era of the self-styled 'snakemen' and their diverse snakebite remedies. Many received multiple bites from highly dangerous snakes, some of which were deliberately taken to either prove a certain treatment or liven up their show. The mortality rate among these handlers and showmen was high. Production of the first effective Australian antivenom, the tiger snake antivenom, in 1930, began the scientific approach to treating snakebite and opened new frontiers for professional and amateur snake people. Collecting venoms in the development and early production of antivenoms was carried out by a number of professional herpetologists often with little or no reward and in some instances at the ultimate cost of their lives. This workr reviewed the most important of those late nineteenth and twentieth century snakemen and their contributions to venom research, antivenom production and current toxinological knowledge. See the published paper:Pioneers