INTERESTING ENGINEERING – A spider that can kill you with its bite may also hold the key to a better sex life for some men.
A new gel made from the venom of the Brazilian wandering spider is being tested as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The gel has already passed the first stage of human trials and is ready for the next phase.
The star of this scientific breakthrough is the Phoneutria nigriventer, commonly known as the banana spider or wood tree spider.
Found in South American countries, including Brazil, this arachnid’s venom is notorious for its toxicity. Its bite can cause rapid heartbeat, seizures, shock, and even death in humans.
But it can also cause another effect: a prolonged erection that can last for hours. This effect, known as priapism, can be painful and harmful to the penis if left untreated.
However, it has also sparked the curiosity of scientists looking for new ways to treat erectile dysfunction. They have been studying the venom for more than 10 years and are close to finding a solution.
Under the leadership of Professor Maria Elena de Lima, researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) embarked on a journey to understand the pharmacological mechanisms behind priapism caused by the spider’s venom. Their ultimate goal was to develop a safe and effective drug for erectile dysfunction.
The result of their efforts is a synthetic molecule named BZ371A. This molecule has garnered 22 international and nine applied patents, underscoring its potential as a groundbreaking solution.
The origins of this remarkable drug date back to the doctoral thesis of researcher Kenia Pedrosa Nunes in 2008. Her work delved into the activity of the Phoneutria nigriventer toxin on erectile function, unveiling the pharmacological effects behind priapism.