Spider venom might prevent brain damage from stroke



The venom from an Australian funnel web spider can kill a person in about 15 minutes.

It might also prevent brain damage after a stroke.

Scientists noticed a molecule in the spider's venom looks a lot like another chemical known to protect brain cells.

See also: Subtle signs you're having a stroke

See also: Could you be having a mini-stroke?


So they did what scientists do — they tested the molecule on rats.

The results were pretty impressive.

The scientists found the chemical could help prevent some brain damage if administered as many as eight hours after a stroke.

Strokes occur when a blockage or a haemorrhage in the brain deprives the brain of oxygen, and brain cells begin to die.

Most strokes occur from a blockage or narrowing of arteries in the brain, and that's the kind scientists looked at in this study.

They still need to test the chemical's effectiveness at treating strokes that result from ruptured blood vessels. And human trials probably won't start for another two years.

11 PHOTOS
World's most venomous spiders
See Gallery
World's most venomous spiders
Redback spiders are very common in Australia and are closely related to the black widow. These small spiders are responsible for the majority of spider bites in Australia, but they are rarely life-threatening. Only the bite of the female is toxic and possible symptoms include itching, sweating and muscle weakness.
These much-feared spiders live in temperate regions around the world, including the southern states of the USA. They are generally found in woodpiles and outhouses. Bites produce muscle aches, nausea and paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult. Although the bite is potentially fatal, deaths are relatively rare: the spider only bites in self-defence.
There are around 900 species of tarantula, and most are not dangerous to humans. However, some species, particularly those found in India and Africa, are more venomous. 
Native to Florida, USA, the venom of the golden orb weaver is potent but not lethal. It has a similar effect to that of a black widow spider with redness and blistering that usually disappears again within 24 hours. 
The brown widow is native to South Africa. They are highly venomous to their prey but are very timid and rarely bite. When they do, they are unlikely to inject all their venom, but if they do, they cause dull, numbing aches, muscle cramps and abdominal pain.

Found in midwest, south and Southeast USA, the brown recluse is one of the most poisonous house spiders in the USA. It tends to hide in footwear, clothing and beds. Its bite is extremely venomous and causes massive tissue loss and subsequent infection.

Typically found in tropical regions, these brightly coloured spiders have 360 degree eyesight. The spiders are only poisonous to humans if the venom causes a severe allergic reaction.
The female black widow only attack humans when they are provoked. Their bites can cause extreme pain, cramping and nausea. They can be found in the USA, southern Europe, South America and many parts of Africa.
Wolf spiders earned their name because it used to be believed that they hunted in groups. These spiders don't make webs but actively hunt for their prey and can move extremely fast when they are disturbed. Although their venom is poisonous and medical attention is vital, it's not lethal. 
Regarded as the most dangerous spider in the world, Brazilian Wandering spiders are active hunters and can travel great distances. The spider will bite in order to protect itself, but unless startled or aggravated, its bites are 'dry' (without venom). A venomous bite is more likely if the spider is hurt and the bite will result in muscle shock which can kill a human.
The funnel web is one of Australia's deadliest animals, with a venom that is packed with at least 40 different toxic proteins. A bite from a funnel web causes massive electrical overload in the body's nervous system and deaths occur from either heart attack or a pulmonary oedema, where the capillaries around the lungs begin to leak fluid and the patient effectively drowns. Death can come as quickly as two hours after a bite if no medical treatment is sought. Due to advances in anti-venom, there has been no death from a Funnel Web bite in Australia since 1980. 
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS