Dr Michel Dugon

‌‌‌Michel DugonI am a zoologist specialist of the evolution and development of venom systems and predation strategies in venomous invertebrates. I am currently investigating a range of related topics including the morphology and the development of spider venom glands, the medical importance of the Noble false widow Steatoda nobilis and the potential of arthropod venom as a novel source of antimicrobial compounds for the pharmaceutical industry.

Venom Systems

The study of venom systems can be defined as the investigation of the evolution, morphology and functionality of venom glands, venom toxins, and associated physiological pathways. Venom systems provide a fascinating insight into the role of selective pressure on the progressive modification of appendages and organs.

The Noble false widow Steatoda nobilis

The Noble false widow Steatoda nobilis is thought to originate from the Canary Islands and Madeira. Over the last few decades, this spider has managed to expand its range through most of Europe, parts of the coastal USA and is now found in South America. It is the only known species in the United Kingdom and Ireland capable of producing an array of (mild) medical symptoms in envenomated patients. This project is currently funded by a College of Science PhD scholarship.

The VIDAA project: Venom Investigation for the Development of novel Antimicrobial Agents

The World Health Organisation lists antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as one of the greatest threats to global health and one of the most urgent medical crises to be addressed. Globally, AMR has been responsible for over 700,000 deaths in 2015, and did cost an estimated €50 billion in lost productivity and healthcare. The WHO estimates that if remedial measures are not rapidly taken, AMR-related illnesses may result in excess of 10,000,000 deaths and 100 trillion in lost productivity by 2050. In this context of constant “arm race”, new drug discovery is urgently needed to tackle AMR. However the pharmaceutical industry has been reluctant to invest in antimicrobial agents R&D for the past three decades.

The goal of VIDAA is to investigate the potential of venom peptides as a novel source of antimicrobial compounds, to further the current understanding of antibiotic venom peptides’ mode of action and to produce a catalogue of antimicrobial peptides derived from the venom of invertebrates. This project is run in collaboration with NUI Galway researchers and other institutions abroad.

Get involved

Members of the Public: Click HERE  to support the VIDAA project and make a donation.

Institutions: We are looking for financial / entrepreneurial partners to help develop our VIDAA project. Please contact Dr Michel Dugon (michel.dugon@nuigalway.ie) for further details.

You can also:

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Email me: michel.dugon@nuigalway.ie


Follow me on Twitter: @Michel_Dugon