Venom from one of the world’s deadliest spiders could one day be used to prevent damage caused by heart attacks.
Researchers used venom from a deadly funnel-web spider. So far the experimental medicine has only been lab-tested. Soon researchers are planning to do human trials of the drug.
According to the scientist Nathan Palpant from the University of Queensland, a spider’s venom has a protein called Hi1a. It worked by stopping a “death signal” sent from the heart after a heart attack, which causes cells to die.
“After a heart attack, blood flow to the heart is reduced, resulting in a lack of oxygen to heart muscle,” Palpant said.
“The lack of oxygen causes the cell environment to become acidic, which combine to send a message for heart cells to die.
In their experiments on rats, after an induced stroke researchers tried this particular protein. They found that it significantly reduced the potential for brain damage even hours after the event.
Improve the chances of a successful transplant
This drug not only has the potential to save the lives of heart attack victims but could also be used to buy time for transplants of the organ. It could give crucial extra time to transport a viable heart by increasing the survival of the heart’s cells.
Professor Peter Macdonald, said, “This will not only help the hundreds of thousands of people who have a heart attack every year around the world, it could also increase the number and quality of donor hearts, which will give hope to those waiting on the transplant list,”