The Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre
In the tradition of the pioneering work on snakebite carried out in Papua New Guinea by Dr Charles Campbell, a small group of researchers from the University of Melbourne (UoM) and the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) have been collaborating since 2005 to build on the knowledge of the past in order to forge a better future for snakebite victims in rural PNG.
The Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre (CCTC) was established to enable a shift from purely academic research towards translational development-focused applied research that will deliver tangible benefits to the people of PNG. CCTC has received funding over the last 4 years from the University of Melbourne, PNG Office of Higher Education and the PNG Science and Technology Secretariat. The University of Melbourne manages large grants or donations for CCTC’s work to ensure financial transparency and appropriate accounting, audit and reporting.
The primary focus of research is to improve the treatment of snakebite in PNG, and a number of projects have been carried out primarily in the fields of clinical toxinology, epidemiology, health worker training and antivenom research. The most successful of these has been the development of a new taipan snake antivenom for use in PNG, and a major focus from 2013-2016 has been the clinical trials of this life-saving medicine at the Port Moresby General Hospital. At the completion of the trials, the product will be registered and supplied for use in PNG. Another major project will pair the researchers with antivenom supplier, CSL Limited to improve the distribution of antivenoms throughout PNG.
CCTC collaborates with the University of Melbourne (AU), University of Papua New Guinea (PG), Instituto Clodomiro Picado (CR), CSIC Valencia (ES), and with the Global Snakebite Initiative, an Australian NGO. It operates a snakebite research laboratory and serpentarium on premises provided by the University of PNG’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences, a snakebite treatment clinic in the Emergency Department at Port Moresby General Hospital, and a mobile intensive care ambulance service to facilitate medical retrievals of critically-ill snakebite patients from outlying health centres in Central Province. CCTC employs and trains young PNG scientists and doctors in toxinology careers.
WHAT WE DO
The aim of the Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre is to propagate basic, clinical and translational health research, implementing development projects, and instituting community-based programmes that improve the prevention and treatment of animal bites and stings in Papua New Guinea. Our objective is to compliment the traditional teaching role of Universities by creating local opportunities for young Papua New Guinean scientists and doctors to develop as mentors and innovators, while at the same time establishing infrastructure and resources that save lives and reduce suffering.
SPECIFIC FOCUS AREAS
- The CCTC operates Papua New Guinea’s on specialist Snakebite Clinic based in the Emergency Department at Port Moresby General Hospital. We provide state-of-the-art emergency life support, diagnostic and monitoring for up to 400 cases of snakebite each year, and provide a clinical toxinology advisory service to outlying health centres, hospitals and resource company medical teams, with support from internationally recognised experts at the University of Melbourne’s Australian Venom Research Unit and the Global Snakebite Initiative;
- Our Clinical Research Laboratory at the UPNG School of Medicine and Health Sciences provides modern haemostasis and haematology services to support the care of snakebite patients in our PMGH Clinic, and to provide advanced quantitative immunodiagnostic testing and a range of other laboratory investigations with clinical and basic research applications;
- We run the only national level training course in Applied Clinical Toxinology anywhere in the developing world, and our training modules provide PNG doctors, nurses and health workers with practical, resource-relevant skills to better equip them to treat snakebites and other animal bites and stings;
- Venomous snakes housed in our Serpentarium enable us to produce snake venoms for use in the production of new antivenoms for PNG, and in basic biomedical research that enables us to train local scientists and improve the knowledge of how these venoms affect snakebite patients;
- We carry out preclinical and clinical research projects that improve current knowledge of the treatment of snakebite envenoming, evaluate the safety and effectiveness of both new and existing antivenoms, explore the epidemiology and causes of snakebite, and unravel the natural history and biogeography of the venomous snakes themselves;
- We work with major international research institutions in Australia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Spain and the United Kingdom to create opportunities for collaboration between Papua New Guinean doctors and scientists, and to facilitate training and technical exchanges that are aimed at building infrastructure and human resource capacity in biomedical and medical research to better equip PNG to retain emerging leaders in these fields;
- We are partnering with others to improve the distribution of life-saving antivenoms to health facilities throughout Papua New Guinea, and to gain a better understanding of procurement needs and seasonal demands through research to evaluate the usage of antivenoms, determine forward needs, and accumulate data that leads to improved access to antivenom products.
To learn more about our work, or to contribute to our projects, please follow any of the following links: