It’s hard to believe, but the deadliest spider in Australia could actually stop brain damage.
A protein found in the venom of the highly dangerous funnel web spider could contain the key to preventing permanent damage to brain cells during a stroke.
Scientists from the University of Queensland and Monash University cautiously caught three of these spiders to conduct their experiments; a brave act considering the bite of a funnel web spider can kill a human in 15 minutes [via The Independent].
In the venom collected, the researchers found a protein called Hi1a which they realised was surprisingly similar to another chemical known for protecting the brain. They injected this protein into rats and discovered it protected channels in the brain which are usually affected by a stroke.
These findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where Hi1a was described as ‘neuroprotective.’ Meaning it ‘provides some protection to the core brain region most affected by oxygen deprivation, which is considered unrecoverable due to the rapid cell death caused by stroke.’
There were 152, 000 strokes in the UK last year, so creating a preventative drug out is desperately needed. It’s early days yet, but the hope is eventually something incredibly useful can be made from deadly venom in the future.
Loaded staff writer Danielle De La Bastide has lived all over the planet and written for BuzzFeed, Thought Catalog as well as print publications throughout the Caribbean.