Venom for Stroke
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brain imagesYou may not want to squish every spider you see when you hear today’s episode. We’re talking about the deadly Australian funnel spider whose venom can do the incredible job of reducing the brain damage caused by stroke. Both of the two types of funnel spiders are on the list of the most deadly spiders. The male venom is five times more toxic than the female’s due to something called Robustoxin. Thirteen people have died fifteen minutes after these spider bites.

The area immediately affected by the stroke is irreversibly damaged, but cell death in the region around that takes hours and even days to happen, so this is where the toxin can help. When blood supply to the brain is disrupted, the cells continue to use glucose. But without the presence of oxygen, acid is produced which is what kills brain cells. Something in the brain called the Acid-Sensing Channel one-a is the primary cause for acid induced brain cell damage.

As it turns out, something in the funnel spider venom completely blocks this channel: Australian researchers identified it as a small protein component called H-i-one-a. Giving this protein component to patients may stabilize that primary acid sensing channel so that it does not conduct its signal in response to increasing acid level.

Just a small dose of it two hours after a stroke prevented eighty percent of stroke damage in rats. Given even after eight hours averted sixty five percent of damage. This is just one of many therapies scientists have been able to source from venoms, and it’s a growing area of research. Yet another reason to thank our animal allies.

For more information…

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Venom from the funnel web spider could prevent brain damage from strokes after 'world-first discovery'
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