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Home / News / Spider venom- a natural Viagra, says study

Spider venom- a natural Viagra, says study

It has been found that, a toxin synthesized from spider venom could be the new treatment for erectile dysfunction.

spider venom therapy
Source: BBC

The venom was extracted from the bite of the Brazilian wandering spider or Phoneutria nigriventer. It improved the erection in mice having hypertension or diabetes. During tests conducted on mice using the toxin named, ‘Pn Tx2-6’ extracted from spider venom, it was found that it reversed age-related erectile dysfunction in them.

Male patients admitted in emergency wards in Brazil who were bitten by the spider suffered from ‘priapism’ or unrelenting and painful erection. This alerted researchers that the toxin Pn Tx2-6 extracted from the venom could have the potential to work as an erectile-dysfunction-ED drug.

Study researcher, Kenia Nunes, a physiologist at Georgia Health Sciences University said that the drug is working effectively in aging which is a natural process. Male human body releases nitric oxide to relax the smooth muscles around the arteries of the penis. This dilates the blood vessels.

The release of nitric oxide is the first amongst many steps involving several chemical reactions which allow muscle relaxation. One step in this series is cGMP, which is a signaling molecule which acts in such a manner that it allows the muscles to remain relaxed. An enzyme called, ‘PDE5’ degrades cGMP which is good since this ensures that erections do not last forever.

Release of too much of PDE5 disallows an erection. By blocking the enzyme, PDE5 inhibitors tend to resolve the problem. The spider toxin works a little differently. Instead of affecting the PDE5 enzyme, the toxin triggers release of nitric oxide and directly acts to relax the smooth muscles.

Since 30 percent patients suffering from erectile dysfunction do not respond to PDE5 inhibitors during the currently available ED treatments, Nunes said that the toxin may serve as a good alternative ED-treatment. Effectiveness of this toxin has not been tested on human as yet.

The researchers have developed a synthetic version of the toxin and the next step will be to try the compound on humans provided it does not have other nasty side effects beyond its intended purpose.

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