Spider venom may be the new Viagra

Press Trust Of India
Mar 08, 2011 at 07:34pm IST

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London: Next time you spot a spider in your bedroom, don't panic, as scientists say one of their species may actually help boost a man's libido.

A single bite from the Brazilian wandering spider has been shown to have side-effects including four-hour long erections.

Now, researchers at the Medical College of Georgia in the US found that the toxins in the arachnid's venom contains a possible breakthrough for erectile dysfunction, the Daily Mail reported.

Spider venom may be the new Viagra

A bite from the Brazilian wandering spider has been shown to give a male victim a four-hour-long erection.

The eight-legged creature -- also known as the armed spider, banana spider or Phoneutria nigriventer -- is found in South and Central America.

Dr Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at the college, said: "The venom of the Phoneutria nigriventer spider is a very rich mixture of several molecules.

"These molecules are called toxins, and then we have various toxins in this venom with different activity.

"Because of this, when a human is bitten by this spider, we can observe many different symptoms including priapism (or persistent erection)."

Other side-effects on top of the long-painful erections include loss of muscle control, severe pain, difficulty breathing and if its victim is not treated with anti-venom, could lead to death due to oxygen deprivation.

But its unusual effects could be used to treat sexual dysfunction in both men and women, said Dr Nunes.

In her study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr Nunes administered a doze of the spider venom to erection-challenged rats with high blood pressure.

A peptide called PnTx2-6 was given to the flaccid rats, who achieved erections as side-effects.

Dr Nunes said: "We found the toxin responsible (for the erections) and performed experiments using hypertensive rats which have severe erectile dysfunction. The toxin was able to normalise the erectile dysfunction in these animals."

The spider's toxin worked in a different way to drugs such as Viagra, Dr Nunes said.

She said: "This is good because we know that some patients don t respond to the conventional therapy. This could be an optional treatment for them."

Dr Nunes is also hopeful that the toxin could help female sexual dysfunction, but has not yet studied this.

The Brazilian wandering spider, which has a leg span of over four inches, has already been found in some American and Canadian supermarkets but is normally found in tropical banana plantations.

According to the curator of arachnids at the University of Washington s Burke Museum, Rod Crawford, only 10 humans out of 7,000 have died from its bite.

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