black mamba toxins

Mike Dilger mdilger at tigressbristol.co.uk
Wed Mar 6 12:55:31 EST 2002


My name is Mike Dilger and I work as researcher for a production company
called Tigress that are based in Bristol, England.

We are currently producing a 1 hour programme about the black mamba
(Dendroaspis polylepis) for Granada. Part of the programme will comprise
a reconstruction of a recent black mamba bite that occurred in south
Africa.We are (ambitiously!) trying to produce a graphical
representation of what happens to the body after a black mamba bite and
your name constantly crops up on the internet as the pre-eminent figure
on mamba venoms. I have spent a good deal of time trying to work out
exactly the sequence of events and it is confusing to a non-biochemist
like myself to say the least!

My understanding is that there are two prominent groups of toxins:
dendrotoxins & fasciculins. The dendrotoxins work by blocking the
potassium channels on the terminal axon membrane, causing the
over-release of Ach resulting in initial stimulation and then blockade
causing paralysis. The fasciculins work synergistically preventing the
metabolism of Ach, resulting in a swamping of the Ach receptors on the
muscle end plate. Is this basically correct or have I got something
fundamentally wrong?

I am also trying to work out a time-line for these neurological events
and how they manifest themselves clinically in a person who has been
bitten. I am particularly keen to work out which muscles the toxin shuts
down and which order i.e eylids first the jaw and throat and how long is
it before the chest muscles and diaphragm stop functioning?

If you could forward this to anyone who may be able to help I would be
very grateful,

Many thanks, Mike Dilger

Mike Dilger
Tigress Productions Ltd
2 St Paul's Road
t: 0117 9335645
f: 0117 9335666
e-mail: mdilger at tigressbristol.co.uk 
mobile: 07967 088738


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