Spiders, especially the big ones, hairy and poisonous, are certainly not man's best friends, but they could soon become one. A recent study by Kenya Nunes, a physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, highlighted how the poison of the Brazilian stray spider (Phoneutria nigriventer) can be successfully used in the treatment of male erectile dysfunction.
A bite … there?
The arachnid in question, also known as the banana spider, is a beast that from paw to paw can reach 15 centimeters in length. It lives in the banana plantations of Brazil and its bite, if not treated with a specific antidote, can lead to muscle paralysis and death by asphyxia.
Those who survived this unpleasant experience showed, among other symptoms, painful erections lasting even 4 or 5 consecutive hours: it is priapism, a malfunction of the male genital apparatus whose consequences can also be serious.
La Nunes has discovered that this effect is caused by a peptide called PnTx2-6 present in the spider's venom. Appropriately used, this molecule has been shown to restore the virility lost to a group of mice suffering from erectile dysfunction.
According to the study, the peptide would cause an erection using different mechanisms than conventional drugs (for example Viagra) and this could make it effective even for patients who do not respond to normal therapies.
Many years will still pass before one can think of a spider venom drug. Meanwhile, Nunes wants to verify the use of the toxin in the treatment of female sexual dysfunctions.
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