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Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins

Print version ISSN 0104-7930On-line version ISSN 1678-4936

J. Venom. Anim. Toxins vol. 1 n. 1 Botucatu  1995 

Editor's viewpoint



The history of venomous animals in Brazil is closely associated with that of small towns of the State of São Paulo, such as Botucatu and Rio Claro. From 1895 to 1897, a young physician Dr. Vital Brazil, born in Campanha, State of Minas Gerais, lived in Botucatu. Impressed by the high incidence of venomous snakebite victims, he decided to search for an antivenom which could effectively save these people's lives. When he left Botucatu, he certainly had precise evidence which would lead him to a remarkable victory against ophidism. In 1898, when working at the Bacteriological Institute of São Paulo, (Instituto Bacteriológico de São Paulo), he produced the first really effective antivenom against Bothrops and Crotalus venoms. In 1899, the Director of the Adolpho Lutz Institute (Instituto Adolpho Lutz) suggested to the Governor of the State of São Paulo the establishment of the Serotherapeutic Institute, (Instituto Soroterápico), which later was directed by Dr. Vital Brazil. This was the genesis of the present Butantan Institute (Instituto Butantan), officially recognized in 1901. In 1927, Dr. Vital Brazil moved to Niterói (State of Rio de Janeiro) and started to run the present Vital Brazil Institute (Instituto Vital Brazil), where he worked until shortly before his death.

In 1956 in Rio Claro, Professor Warwick E. Kerr aiming at doing research on new alternatives to increase honey production in Brazil, brought the Apis mellifera scutellata honeybee from Africa. During the experiments 26 swarms of these African honeybees escaped from the laboratory, beginning then the africanization process in the Americas.

In 1976, São Paulo State University (Universidade Estadual Paulista) - UNESP- was established after the union of the former Isolated Institutes of Higher Education of the State of São Paulo such as those of Botucatu, Araraquara, Rio Claro, among others. This new University with its unique multicampus setting throughout the State brought together professionals with common objectives as well as research projects. This fact promoted the integration of scientific projects regarding venomous animals.

The beginning of the 1980s was marked by the country's worst" crisis of lack of antivenom" in Brazil. Then, the Health Ministry started giving special attention to this problem. Thus, it was imperative to know the real prevalence of envenomations in the country. So, from 1986 on, notification of envenomation cases became mandatory throughout the country. Then, it was possible to know, at least in part, the real demand for antivenom for a one-year period, which led the Government to invest in the three main antivenom producing Institutes: Butantan, Vital Brazil and Ezequiel Dias.

These inherent problems and the steps taken by the Government motivated several Brazilian researchers to start major scientific projects in this area.

In 1988, a team of researchers from UNICAMP (Universidade de Campinas), USP (Universidade de São Paulo), Butatan Institute and others founded "The Brazilian Society of Toxinology" (Sociedade Brasileira de Toxinologia). This new society aimed at contributing to the acquisition and expansion of knowledge on animal, plant and microbial toxins, in addition to promoting scientific events. Thus, the first Symposium was held at the Butantan Institute in São Paulo in 1990, named "I Symposium of the Brazilian Society of Toxinology - Venoms and Envenomations in Brazil". The second Symposium was held in Campinas in 1992, together with the "IV Pan American Symposium on Animal, Plant and Microbial Toxins". The third Symposium was held in Belo Horizonte  in the State of Minas Gerais. This latter was coordinated by the researchers of the Ezequiel Dias Institute, (Instituto Ezequiel Dias), in cooperation with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais). These three Symposiums, in addition to having strengthened the Brazilian Society of Toxinology, have also stimulated several Brazilian researchers to take part in scientific meetings as well as organize debates and maintain scientific interchange.

In 1989, a group of researchers from UNESP proposed the establishment of" THE CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF VENOMS AND VENOMOUS ANIMALS", (CENTRO DE ESTUDOS DE VENENOS E ANIMAIS PEÇONHENTOS) - CEVAP, whose objectives were the following: to integrate basic, applied and technological research, to offer specialization and postgraduate courses and to give assistance and guidance to the community. In 1993, CEVAP was officially recognized by the University Council of UNESP as a new Research Center.

The researchers of CEVAP concerned about the teaching of venoms and venomous animals in Brazil, published the book entitled "Animal venoms: an integrated view" (Venenos animais: uma visão integrada). This book written by professors of UNESP and other Research Institutions in Brazil aimed at giving support to those professionals who work in the medical, veterinarian and biological areas, providing them with basic and applied knowledge.

Concerned about the fact that Brazilian papers on toxinology are published in non-specialized Scientific Journals, CEVAP in partnership with VERBATIM and PRODEC, came up with the idea of publishing a new Scientific Journal on venomous animals, toxins and derivatives. "The Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins" will be published in English on 3.5" HD/DD diskettes to offer Brazilian researchers an opportunity to publish their papers in this specific area. The Journal Editorial Board is composed of renowned scientists from Brazil and from several other countries, who will certainly give a remarkable contribution to toxinology. This new Journal will start to circulate in 1995, one hundred years after Vital Brazil lived in Botucatu. It is an homage we pay to this brilliant Brazilian Scientist.

Lastly, but most importantly, I would like to invite Toxinologists to send their papers to our Journal.



Benedito Barraviera

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