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Understanding The Deadly Spider Venom—Report

Until now, research on spider venom wasn’t much researched. Now, Swiss scientist have dug deeper, to know exactly how dangerous it is.

Although venom from animals has medicinal use since long, the focus was always on snake venom. Now spiders are being investigated.

The two operate very differently – snake venom affects the cardiovascular functioning, whereas spider venom targets the nerves.

Understanding the effects of spider venom could aid in successfully treating conditions like stroke or epilepsy.

It is known that arachnid venom disrupts the functioning of ion channels. These channels need to open or close at particular times to control the muscles. Such disruption blocks the flow in ion channels, and results in paralysis or even death. Studying the relationship between venom and these channels could break a new path in treatment.

The Institute of Evolution and Ecology at Switzerland’s Bern University, combines years or research to understand better the treatment of nervous conditions. The prime species studied – Cupienniussalei, also called tiger wandering spider – is quite a large arachnid, with legs spanning 10cms and a native of Central America. It ambushes and releases on its prey, instead of spinning its web.

Researchers say spider venom has a strategy that doubly inactivates its spider – one is neurotoxic and the other destabilizes the body’s muscles and nerves, ending in paralysis.

To gain a deeper understanding of the deadly nature of spider venom, scientists at IEE studied each RNA molecule present in the spider’s venom glands. The finding of a protein alpha-amylase led them to analyze other proteins and peptides that contributed to spider venom’s toxic effects.

To sum up their conclusions, the research team said venom from spiders is not a simple toxin – it is a whole combination of elements that attack its prey, paralyze and then kill it many different ways.

Future use of spider venom in medicine depends on studying how nontoxic elements develop into toxic ones. Scientist are of the opinion that most of the other species use the same venom strategy as tiger wandering spider, making the discovery very important.

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