Spider Venom Could Ward Off Stroke Brain Damage
A bite from an Australian funnel web spider can kill a human in 15 minutes but a safe ingredient found in the venom of one species can keep safe brain cells from the being destroyed by a stroke brain damage even when given hours after the event scientists say.If the compound fares well in human trials it could become the first drug that doctors have to keep safe against the devastating loss of the neurons that strokes can cause.Researchers discovered the protective molecule by chance as they sequenced the DNA of the toxins in the venom of the Darling Downs funnel web spider (Hadronyche infensa) that lives in Queensland and New South Wales.Venom from three spiders was gathered for the study after scientists trapped and “milked exhaustively” three spiders on Orchid beach about 400km north of Brisbane
The molecule, called Hi1a, stood out because it looked like two copies of another brain cell-protecting chemical stitched together. It was so intriguing that scientists decided to synthesise the compound and test its powers. “It proved to be even more potent,” said Glenn King at the University of Queensland’s centre for pain research.stroke brain damage occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted and the brain is starved of oxygen. About 85% of strokes are caused by blockages in blood vessels in the brain, with the rest due to bleeds when vessels rupture. Approximately six million people a year die from stroke brain damage, making it the second largest cause of death worldwide after heart attacks.